Diastasis Recti is a separation of the linea alba effectively weakening the rectus abdominis. It can be checked by placing two fingers above the navel and having the client raise their head and engage their abdominals, if there is a hollowness beneath the fingers that is diastasis recti. You must check below the navel as well. Diastasis recti is mistakenly thought of a woman’s issue but men and even babies can have this condition as well. It may appear as a ridge running down the midline from the xyphoid process to the navel.
Signs of diastasis include incontinence that continues more than 8 weeks post- partum, pelvic floor dysfunction, constipation, pain during intercourse as well as lower back pain, SI joint issues and looking 4 months pregnant.
Splinting or binding of the midsection can help with support and pain, but does not help resolve the condition.
Contraindications include trunk flexion such as sit ups or crunches, open kinetic chain exercises with both legs at table top and unsupported, overhead movements with heavy load, oblique movements and planks. These movements may increase the separation of the linea alba and further weaken the rectus abdominis.
Muscles to strengthen to resolve this condition include the transverse abdominis, diaphragm, multifidus and the pelvic floor muscles. These local stabilizers make up the inner unit or the “core muscles” which provide stabilization to the lumbo-pelvic region.
Transverse abdominis is a respiration muscle so breathing exercises can start the healing process. It originates on the back body via the thoracolumbar fascia, the iliac crest and internal surface of the lower six ribs. It wraps around the trunk and inserts on the front body via the linea alba. By learning to effectively engage this muscle you will start to strengthen and restore the function of the TA which is to compress the abdominal contents. The pelvic floor muscles and the transverse abdominis are functionally inter-related. So as we strengthen the TA we will start the healing process for the pelvic floor muscles. And as we add targeted exercises for the pelvic floor we can progress towards more functional movement and more challenging abdominal exercises.
A well trained instructor can help you identify diastasis recti and other muscular weaknesses and develop a program to restore strength and stability to your core. And remember a strong core makes every thing better!