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Things You Should Know About Diastasis Recti

Things You Should Know About Diastasis Recti

by Ariss Pierce, PT, DPT, Cert. MDTLeave a Comment

Whenever there is a large expansion experienced throughout your trunk, all of the abdominal muscles will be affected. Normal weight gain during pregnancy, abdominal weight gain in the absence of pregnancy, and having an abdominal surgery are all reasons someone may be diagnosed with Diastasis Recti (DRA). A Diastasis Recti means a separation of the abdominal muscles and their associated fascia that holds them together at the midline of the trunk. An abdominal separation greater than .9 to 2.7cm along the midline of the abdomen from the sternum (breastbone) to the pubic symphysis (joint between your left and right pelvic bone), is considered DRA. DRA by itself is not the main issue; the symptoms that may arise are more prevalent in determining the relevance of having a DRA. Some individuals are asymptomatic and may not seek physical therapy care to address it.

Several conditions are associated with Diastasis Recti (DRA). The two most common are low back pain and urinary incontinence.

  • Normally, the bones, ligaments, and fascia surrounding the vertebra (bones in the spine) and rib cage provide the low back static (non-moving) stability.
  • This static stability is needed to hold our body upright against gravity while doing stationary activities like typing on the computer and driving. When the abdominal muscles lose stability, the coordination of how the muscles support your core will be altered, creating excess tension and pain muscles can retract back towards your low back muscles and create excessive tension and pain.
  • Urinary Incontinence is characterized by a loss of urine involuntarily. When someone has a DRA, they may have inadequate ability to maintain the abdominal pressure needed to support pelvic floor function. A loss of the deepest layer of abdominal muscles (especially the transverse abdominis) would also be related to a loss of strength in the muscles that support the bladder. Weakness in the abdominal muscles would also leave the organs like the bladder more susceptible to excessive force loads, leading to stress incontinence during a cough, sneeze or laughing.

Physical Therapy Can Help

If you believe you have a Diastasis Recti, you should know that this condition is highly responsive to Physical Therapy. A physical therapist will assess the extent of the separation and its impact on your function. A program can be devised to improve the inter-recti distance through manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, core strengthening, and functional training. Many people believe surgery is the answer, but it is often not required.

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*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

References
Lee DG, Lee LJ, McLaughlin L. (2008). Stability, continence and breathing: The role of fascia following pregnancy and delivery. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 12(4), 333-348

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