Who here has heard of diastasis recti? Okay next question, who here has diastasis recti? My hand is going up. Now after 3 kids, I’m probably lucky that is the worst thing (okay there are a few stretch marks there also). I am pretty fortunate, though my abs did not come all the way back together, they aren’t that bad. So let’s talk about it…
Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles. Seen usually after pregnancy due to the abdominal muscles being separated by that growing uterus and baby. (Of note, there are other causes as well). This is better known as that “mommy pooch”. Not only does it sometimes make women look like they are still pregnant, it can also cause low back pain and constipation.
How do you know if you have it? You lay flat on your back, and try to put your fingers in the midline of you abdomen and see if you can fit your fingers in. It is normal to be able to get 1 finger between the abdominal muscles, though more than that could be concerning. Some people can fit up to 4 fingers side by side in the area—this is what we call severe and not normal.
There is good news…this can be corrected, or at least you can make it some-what better. The goal is going to be tightening your core in a way that doesn’t increase the intra-abdominal pressure and slow the healing time for those muscles to come back together. Here are some exercises to try. You can talk to you doctor about going to physical therapy for this, as it can be a more targeted approach. Some people could also need to have it surgically correct.
How do I avoid this? ? Anything that is going to increase that intra-abdominal pressure while the body is healing can put you at risk. So sit-ups, push-ups, straining for bowel movements, etc. Obviously we all want our pre-baby bodies back, though you want to be careful with getting back into exercise too quickly as it could increase the risk of that area of the body not healing. But, there are some people that do all the right things and those abs just stay separated.
Long story short, anything that separates your intra-abdominal muscles *can* lead to them not coming back together all the way and cause diastasis recti. So if you feel like you can fit your whole fist in your belly button area, you may want to talk to your doctor about some helpful options.
…until next time, IrishDoc07