What is Diastasis Recti?
What is Diastasis Recti? This is defined as a separation of the outermost muscle of your belly called the rectus abdominis. The muscles attach to connective tissue in the center of the belly called the linea alba. It commonly occurs during pregnancy as the uterus grows or with significant weight gain in the abdomen. In the first few months postpartum, the diastasis may get smaller, although not all the time.
What are the risk factors for Diastasis Recti in pregnancy? You are at higher risk for developing a Diastasis Recti if you are over 35 years of age, carry a large baby, have a multiparous pregnancy or multiple pregnancies, gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, and have a c-section birth.
All women should get a diastasis check up by their OBGYN or physical therapist postpartum. Physical therapy intervention can greatly help a diastasis that hasn’t closed, is getting worse (widening gap), or is linked with low back pain, incontinence, and pelvic floor dysfunction. You may also benefit from using an abdominal binder as recommended by your provider.
What should you avoid? It is understandable that you want to lose the baby weight and jump into an exercise program right away. Keep in mind, though, that some exercises that you have done prior to pregnancy may make the diastasis much worse and you should avoid these type of exercises:
1. Crunches/ Curl Ups/ Pilates
2. Heavy Lifting/ Weight Training
3. Certain yoga poses, such as wheel and upward facing dog
The goal of diastasis rehabilitation is to get you back to doing the exercises that you love safely and prevent further injury. Physical therapy will focus on retraining certain muscle groups that will support and allow the diastasis to heal, rather than put more strain on it. In addition to strengthening, coordinating the timing of various muscle contractions and pairing it with efficient breathing are all key components to having a successful outcome.
Reach me if I can answer any questions on physical therapy, serving you locally in New York City or anywhere online virtually through “telehealth“.
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