A Rectus Diastasis is a separation in the 6-pack muscle, the rectus abdominis.
How does it occur?
It most often occurs during pregnancy. Sometimes it will spontaneously correct following birth, but it does not always.
It can also occur with overstretch of abdominal musculature.
Why is it a problem?
There is no pain with this condition.
However, the abdominal wall and the core will become weak. Your abdominals work with your pelvic floor, so a separation of your rectus abdominis muscles can make your pelvic floor less efficient and may result in prolapse and incontinence.Your abdominals also work with your lower back musculature, therefore it can lead to lower back pain.
How do I know if I have a Rectus Diastasis?
If you lift your head while lying on your back and the center of your belly protrudes out, you may have a rectus diastasis.
It is measured by the number of fingers you can fit between the muscle when lying on your back and lifting your head. Normal is 1/2 a finger above and below the belly button, and one finger at the belly button.
How do I treat it?
If the abdominal separation is greater than 4 fingers, an abdominal binder is recommended. If you use an abdominal binder, it should be from your hip bones to your rib cage, you need to keep the binder on 24/7. You can only take the binder off when you do your correction exercise below, or when you take a shower. You should keep it on at bedtime.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place a sheet around your waist, crossed as if tying a knot and pull snug. Raise your head only, chin towards your chest. Hold for a count of 5, exhaling during the count. Lower your head as you loosen your grip on the sheet. Repeat 10-20 times per session, 2 sessions per day. It should be corrected within several weeks. If it does not correct within this time, please see a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic health.
To get your pelvic health assessed, schedule a consultation with a pelvic floor physiotherapist at Triangle Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation!
Written by: Kamand Zendeganidoost, Registered Physiotherapist
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