What is Diastasis Recti?

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series.

Check out our 2 part series from Guest Blogger Jennifer on Diastasis Recti.  You can find the other post here.


What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis (dye-uh-STAY-siss REK-tye) Recti is when the left side and the right side of the Rectus Abdominus (your six pack) separate.  This does not mean the two sides have been sliced apart from each other.  It means the connective tissue between the two sides has been stretched and thinned.

How does one get Diastasis Recti?

D.R. comes from excessive intra-abdominal pressure or pressure from the inside of the abdomen pressing outward.  Situations that can cause this level of pressure are pregnancy, weight gain in the abdomen, and doing ab exercises without proper form.  Sometimes even children can have it.

How do I know if I have Diastasis Recti?

You can go to a physician and get tested and have an ultrasound.  But, there is also a test you can do on yourself in the comfort of your own home.   

  1. Lie flat on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Place your hand, palm down, on your abdomen with your middle finger over your belly button.
  4. Stand your hand so that your finger tips are the only thing touching your belly.
  5. Gently press down, just a little.
  6. Now, that you are wondering about my sanity and directions (haha!), gently lift your head, just off the floor, while tightening your abs.

If you have Diastasis Recti, you will feel your abs tightening around the outside of your fingers.

If you do not have Distastis Recti, you will fell your abs tightening under your fingers.

Now, if you felt your abs tightening around your fingers or you could not feel them at all, it is time to figure out how deep and how wide the separation is.

To determine the width:

Repeat the steps above until you can figure out how many fingers will fit between your left side and right side.

Once you determine how wide the separation is you will repeat the process above to find the depth of your separation. 

To determine the depth:

The depth typically fits in the categories of shallow, medium, or deep.

Repeat the above steps to find how many fingers you can fit:

  • 2-3 inches above your belly button and
  • 2-3 inches below your belly button.

For instance, my diastasis is a 1-4-2.  Deep at the 4.  I have been working on mine for a few weeks and have seen my top go from a 3 to a 1 and my bottom from a 3 to a 2.

Typically a 2 finger width or less is considered non-problematic.

What do I do now that I know I have Diastasis Recti? How do I fix it?

Splint

This is a special splint that is supposed to be worn 24/7.  It simply holds the separated abs closer together so the connective tissue has the opportunity to heal.

Rehabilitative Exercises

See the new D.R. AB workout video in the 2nd part of this series!

Avoid traditional ab exercises and positions that require twisting and/or sitting up like crunches, V sits, etc.  When getting up from a horizontal position (like lying in bed) roll over onto your side and then use your arms to push into an upright position.  These types of exercises/positions require the 6-pack muscles to tighten and pull and if you have D.R. those muscles are unable to do that action.  As a result the position can cause the separation to worsen.  Nobody wants that!  Particular exercises to avoid include (but not limited to) crunches, sit ups, intense ab machines, plank, or hover exercises.  Also avoid leg lowers, bicycles, hanging knee raises, tabletop hundreds, or stability ball crunches.  The idea is to start with low level ab exercises and avoid anything that puts too much strain on your abdominal wall.

Learn to use your Transverse Abdominus (TVA)

The Transverse Abdominus is also known as your “internal girdle.”  This muscle should be engaged during your daily activities such as: sitting, standing, walking and especially when lifting, pulling, pushing.


Thank you for your amazing insight Jennifer!  We really appreciate this series!

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