Diastasis Recti is defined as a separation or stretching of the rectus abdominis muscles, which is caused by the linea nigra connective tissues being stretched beyond their capacity, and essentially thinned. This leaves vulnerability to your organs, and in severe cases can cause bulges of the digestive organs.
Checking your abdominal muscles is actually quite simple, and I’ll walk you through the steps in the plainest terms possible, okay? Let’s start!
Lay with your back flat on the floor, with your knees bent, and your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Your knees should be about shoulder-width apart, the tops of your inner thighs may still be touching, but your knees shouldn’t be.
Are your feet still flat on the floor? Good.
Roll your shoulders forward lifting your head and neck off the ground enough that you feel your abdominal muscles contract.
While your abs are contracted feel down the center of your abdomen, from below the chest bone, down to the pelvic bone. You’ll feel a slight dip, which is where you find the linea nigra connective tissues.
Make note of that gap – remember that a gap of more than 2 finger lengths is definitely a moderate abdominal separation.
Diastasis recti can lead to many complications. Most common include jeopardized trunk stability and mobility, back pain, pelvic pain, damage to your posture, pelvic floor dysfunction, and hernia – in extreme cases.
Prevention is key!
Maintaining the abdominal/core strength pre-pregnancy will help. Using exercises like planks, and lunges will help and practice using stability balls/balance boards to increase strength. Using these same exercises in a safe way during pregnancy will help keep the core strong, and prevent major damage to the delicate tissues holding your muscles intact.
Other exercises to help strengthen your core and upper body include standing push-ups and bridge poses.
Posture is also important, so ensure you’re keeping your core tight and inline, both prepregnancy, during, and postpartum.
And the last part I want to mention is the importance of deep breathing to fill your ribcage, instead of “belly breathing”.
Belly breathing means breathing in with your abdomen and feeling your belly extend. It is the opposite of breathing into your rib cage and feeling your ribs and chest expand. Belly breathing puts pressure on the pelvic floor, which can cause a weakening of the delicate tissues. This is a major cause of embarrassing problems like urinary incontinence.
Strengthen your core. Breathe deeply into your ribs to fully expand your diaphragm and not your belly. Stand up straight. Pay attention to what your body tries to tell you.