Abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti) of your mid line of six-pack muscles is all the chat right now in social media. So...I want to give you the low down on what the hype is all about.
When I first started my training with pelvic floor physical therapy, I was under the impression that a 2 finger split was considered normal. With time, more research and growing knowledge about this topic, we now know that not to be true.
After you read this I hope you feel more comfortable about this topic.
5 Important Pieces of Information About Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Separation)
Fact 1 :I feel like a see 3 new sponsored posts daily on this topic. An abdominal separation can happen to the linea alba, the connective tissue within your mid line, due to the laxity that happens from growing uterus and baby. Try not to stress out about an abdominal separation. It is very common among pregnant and postpartum women and very possible to heal a diastasis recti (men can have Diastasis Recti too). A study by Diane Lee, found 100% of women have abdominal separation at 35 weeks gestation (pregnancy). Your body is smart one and knows what it is doing. Your belly stretches to accommodate your growing uterus and baby. The study found that by 6 months postpartum, diastasis had decreased to 35-39%. So it is important to check in with belly every now and then to see if yours has gotten stronger.
Fact 2: Posture and alignment are important with strengthening the gap. Pay attention to how you are standing, lifting and carrying baby. Make sure your shoulders and ribs are stacked over pelvis to keep your torso in good alignment, which decreases pressure in your abdomen (less pressure pushing on linea alba-midline of abdomen). Try to be mindful of how you are lifting/ carrying baby, especially when in the car seat or baby wearing. This is also a great place to start seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist so they can help you with your alignment with activities and assist you on your road to recovery.
Fact 3: Another way you can decrease the pressure in your belly is by breathing out (exhaling) when you are lifting baby. This is great to remember when lifting baby into car, crib, picking toys up from the ground, lifting holiday decorations etc.
Fact 4: There is NOT one exercise that will heal your abdominal separation. There is also NOT one exercise that will ruin your abdomen. There may be exercises that you need to avoid while you are working on strengthening your separation, but you can get back to those exercises when your body is ready. For instance, if you are seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist, they may ask you to avoid certain core strengthening exercises, like a plank, but that doesn’t mean you will have to avoid them forever.
Fact 5: The internet gets us caught up in the separation of our abdomen. Is it 2 fingers wide, 3 fingers wide or more. I tend to not get caught up on the separation split width and try to not get my patients too excited on this either. I am more interested in the tension created between the 6 pack muscles that run from the breast bone to the pubic bone. I want my patients to improve in their “bridge” between their mid line, meaning more “taut” with activities of lifting, carrying, exercise etc. When your tension improves, you are getting stronger!