Treating Abdominal Muscle Separation (Diastasis Recti)

Pregnancy is the most common cause of diastasis recti.

The abdominal wall plays a crucial role in how your pelvis, spine, and trunk function. If you are pregnant, recently had a baby, had an injury to your core, or underwent abdominal surgery, your abdominal muscle may need some help recovering. Diastasis recti is a common condition that can cause a variety of side effects.

Fortunately, abdominal separation treatment is readily available and effective. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about abdominal separation, including:

  • What is diastasis recti?
  • What causes diastasis recti?
  • Symptoms of diastasis recti
  • Abdominal separation treatment
  • How to prevent abdominal separation
  • Diastasis recti exercises

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti refer to abdominal or stomach muscles separation, a condition where the connective tissue between the parallel abdominal muscles is stretched to the point where it causes a gap in the abdominal muscles. This type of abdominal separation in males can occur, but frequency is much less than in females.

What Causes Abdominal Separation?

Causes of diastasis recti include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Injury
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Improper exercise and weight lifting
  • Diastasis recti in men can occur due to digestive problems
  • Males with abdominal aortic aneurysm can often present with diastasis recti

Pregnancy is the most common cause of diastasis recti. During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes major changes due to the stretching of the uterus and a hormone called relaxin that helps muscles stretch and relax even further.

You are more likely to experience abdominal separation after pregnancy if:

  • You have had more than 1 child
  • You are having multiple babies
  • You are pregnant and over the age of 35
  • You have a small frame and are expecting a baby that is larger than average

Diastasis recti refer to abdominal muscle separation.

What Does Diastasis Recti Feel Like?

Diastasis recti symptoms may include:

  • Low back pain
  • Difficulty performing certain movements or exercises
  • An area in the centre of your stomach between your rectus abdominis muscle that feels softer
  • An area in the centre of your abs where your fingers can sink into the tissue (you may even feel the edges of your muscles on the sides of the gap)
  • A bulging area in the middle of your stomach when the abdominal muscles are engaged
  • Incontinence
  • Hernias
  • Pelvic or hip pain
  • Pain when lifting heavy objects
  • Feeling weak in your core
  • Poor posture

A qualified health professional, such as a physiotherapist, can make a clinical diagnosis and create a personalised treatment plan for diastasis recti.

How Can Physiotherapy Help With Abdominal Separation?

There are a variety of methods of abdominal separation treatment, including physiotherapy.

You may wonder, “How can Physiotherapy help diastasis recti?”

Practising a program that involves physiotherapy treatment and diastasis recti exercise challenges to help heal the separation. Our physiotherapists have extensive training in addressing the changes that happen to a woman’s body during and after pregnancy, including abdominal separation and treating those even with severe diastasis recti symptoms.

Other treatments for diastasis recti include special supportive abdominal garments that compress the stomach and help hold the muscles together and prevent strain during daily activity. Although it is best to treat abdominal separation as soon as possible — ideally within the first 3 to 6 months after birth — it is never too late to get on the path to healing.

There are a variety of methods of abdominal separation treatment, including physiotherapy.

Can You Prevent Diastasis Recti?

Although you cannot necessarily prevent diastasis recti, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of abdominal separation or keep it from getting worse:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Roll onto your side if you are sitting up or getting out of bed
  • Choose exercises that target the deep core muscles
  • Skip movements that worsen diastasis recti, including oblique curls, certain yoga poses, ab twists, heavy lifting, and sit-ups (ask your physiotherapist for exercises to avoid if you have diastasis recti)
  • Strengthen your core before getting pregnant
  • If you develop a cough, get it treated right away
  • Try to stay regular/avoid constipation
  • Avoid anything that strains your core muscles


Diastasis Recti Exercises To Do At Home

You should always work with a healthcare professional to develop an appropriate diastasis recti treatment program. Abdominal separation treatment programs will include targeted diastasis recti exercise that work to close the gap in your abdominal muscles, regain strength, and improve function.

Your diastasis recti treatment will include exercises guided by your physiotherapist at appointments, as well as abdominal separation exercises to do at home. The best diastasis recti exercises include movements that keep the ab muscles pulled in rather than pushing them out.

How Do I Know If I Have Abdominal Separation?

Working with a qualified physiotherapist is one of the best ways to start healing your diastasis recti.

If you are experiencing symptoms of abdominal separation and want to know if you have diastasis recti, the only way to know is by getting diagnosed by a healthcare professional.

Our experienced physiotherapists can perform an in-depth evaluation, diagnose abdominal separation, develop a customised treatment program, and monitor your progress to help you heal diastasis recti naturally and effectively.

We invite you to contact us with any questions or to book a consultation.

Ready to start moving again?