Diastasis recti can be explained as the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis, or the abdominal muscles. It is very common during and following pregnancy due to the uterus stretching the muscles and weakening the abdomen wall as your baby grows. However, the condition is not limited to pregnant women. It can affect anyone, including newborn babies and men.
Self-Check for Diastasis
The most noticeable symptom of diastasis recti is a bulge in your belly area, causing women to look pregnant even after delivery. Here’s how to self-check:
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Slightly raise your head up off the floor, supporting your head with one hand, and look down at your belly.
Use your other hand to feel above and below your bellybutton and along your midline ab muscles. See if any fingers fit between the gaps in your muscles.
If there is a separation of two or more finger widths, it is likely a moderate case of diastasis recti and should be checked further by a clinician.
Many women will experience abdominal separation during pregnancy, which can weaken their core and lead to back or pelvic pain. Avoid heavy lifting or further straining your abdominal muscles until after you deliver. Supporting proper alignment and posture to help manage the stretching and pressure on your abdominal wall during pregnancy is important. When sitting, support your lower back by placing a towel or pillow behind you. When getting in or out of bed or standing up off the floor, bend your knees, roll, and support yourself with your arm. Diastasis recti may correct itself after delivery for some women, but if you are experiencing symptoms eight weeks postpartum, exercises such as pelvic floor and deep stomach muscle exercises can help.
Things to Avoid
Until you are evaluated further by one of our therapists at Peak Physical Therapy, do not perform any strenuous exercises in which your abdominal muscles bulge out or you see a coning down the midline of your belly. During the post-partum period, exercises such as full sit-ups, crunches, and front-loaded planks can do more harm if done incorrectly and one is unable to manage the tension on the abdominal wall through the separation. Avoid lifting or carrying heavy loads and holding your breath, as well as holding your baby on one hip with bad posture. Try not to cough without supporting your ab muscles. For further information, call our clinic today to set up your individualized assessment with one of our qualified pelvic health Physical Therapists.
Peak Physical Therapy
Our four convenient locations give you greater access to the South Shore's best physical therapy services. The locations include Norwell, MA, Scituate, MA, Quincy, MA, and Hanover, MA. Our state-of-the-art facilities include access to the best treatments and equipment to ensure a fast recovery. We've even expanded our facilities to include access to therapy pools as well as indoor sports fields. If you're unsure whether physical therapy can help you, we offer a no-obligation FREE injury screening. Click here for more information.
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