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Diastasis Recti: What's that ridge on my stomach?

You have just had a baby! Congratulations! 

Or maybe you are still pregnant! 

What is diastasis recti?

Either way, you've notice when you strain your abdomen that you have a ridge that pops up along the center of your belly. Above or below the belly button, or both! This is called diastasis recti.

It seems really alarming at first but it's totally normal! When you're pregnant the abdominal muscles have to separate in order to accommodate for a growing baby. 

                                         Close up of a cute pregnant belly

The separation occurs at the linea alba which is just connective tissue.  

Most separations will close on their own after delivery. Some could use a little extra help with physical therapy, and in extreme cases, surgery. 

How does a physical therapist check for a diastasis?

A pelvic floor physical therapist will assess you for a diastasis by having you lay down on your back with your knees bent. Then they will ask you to slightly curl up, ever so lightly, while feeling above and below your belly button (and at the belly button). They are checking for the distance between the edges of the abdomen. This is typically measured in finger widths. Anything 2FW and below is normal and not considered a separation. 

Another thing your therapist will check for is the ability to approximate those edges with a muscle contraction in your transverse abdominal muscle. This is a basic and really important muscle to be able to properly contract during your rehabilitation. 

Once you are able to perform a transverse abdominal contraction properly, your therapist will move on to more challenging exercises to help close the diastasis. 

Does it really matter if I close it or not?

Absolutely! Our abdominals are part of our core. If we don't properly engage them (perhaps because the separation is too far apart), we can't transfer force loads properly during exercise and other activities of daily living. This ultimately can put more stress on your low back and pelvic floor, as well as teach poor movement strategies. 

                                                      core muscles

Addressing diastasis recti during pregnancy can be a little more challenging because baby continues to grow. Your therapist will teach you how to gently brace against the abdomen and can even utilize taping techniques to give the muscles some extra support. 

Treat your diastasis recti

You don't have to live with abdominal separation! Get scheduled with our pelvic floor specialist today!