Diastasis Recti is known as the “separation” of the rectus abdominis muscles or “6 pack muscles” after pregnancy. The muscles themselves do not tear or separate from one another but rather there is a stretching of the tissue between the muscles. This tissue is called the linea alba. In most cases, pelvic floor therapy can reduce the symptoms, decrease the space between the muscles and get you back to doing what you love safely.
– Bulging of the abdominal muscles, which can be above, at, or below the belly button
– Large gap felt between the “6 pack muscles”
– Low back pain
– Instability of the pelvis
– Decreased core strength and support
When there is an increased pressure in the abdomen, such as during pregnancy, the abdomen will expand outwards. The tissues of the rectus abdominis begin to elongate and stretch. Eventually the tissue (linea alba) between the muscle also stretches and thins. In addition, certain hormones that are released during pregnancy contribute to changes in these connective tissues making it even more possible for a diastasis recti.
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to assess your symptoms, including checking the distance between the six pack muscles (rectus abdominis) and feeling the depth of it. At the start, your therapist will discuss your history and then ask you to lie flat. She will then have you lift your head so she can assess where and what the diastasis feels like. Your therapist may also suggest an internal exam if she feels it is necessary based on your symptoms. The pelvic floor muscles are in fact the deepest core layer. So to increase your core strength to assist with reducing the gap and weakness, your therapist may want to assess the pelvic floor strength and instruct you how to properly perform pelvic floor strengthening exercises. If your therapist feels you may need further examination or testing, she will refer you to an MD.
In many cases, pelvic floor therapy is exactly what is needed to get back to a normal lifestyle. Treatment is focused on strengthening the deep core muscles, which include the pelvic floor muscles, to lessen the depth and gap of your diastasis recti for a stronger core and healthier lifestyle. Pelvic floor therapy physical therapy can also help progress you back into the activities you enjoy doing, such as running. Physical therapy will also focus on body mechanics and posture when taking care of your little one, which is just as important as the strengthening aspect of this program!