Diastasis Recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), resulting in a gap of more than 2.8cm in the middle of the tummy. Although this impairment can happen in both men and women, it occurs more commonly in women due to the physical changes during pregnancy. The rates of incidence range from 67% to 100% in post-partum women.
Why does it matter?
Recti can lead to:
lower back and pelvic pains
and poor postures due to poor core muscular stabilization of the spine and
incontinence, or uncontrolled leakage of urine
problems such as constipation and bloating
hernias, the abnormal protrusion of tissue or an organ, such
as the bowel, through the wall of the cavity in which it normally resides.
Who does it affect?
mentioned, a diastasis can occur in both men & women.
men, DRAM can be caused by improper exercise technique such as weightlifting
without proper form, thus placing too much pressure on the abdominal wall.
can also be born with abdominal diastasis. Such diastasis usually resolves as
the baby grows.
pregnant women, diastasis in the third trimester is inevitable as the uterus
naturally stretches to allow for the rapid growth of the baby. This in
turn initiates a separation of the rectus abdominis and linea alba (connective
tissue between 6 packs) to accommodate the growing baby. This separation
usually heals by itself in 8-12 weeks. For many new mums, however, the gap can
persist. This is because the connective tissues are no longer providing tension
and stability, resulting in compromised abdominal/tummy muscles. This lack of protection
and stability affects the whole body both aesthetically and functionally. Most
mummies complain of frustrating post-baby tummy protrusions that would not
reduce even when their baby weight is long gone.
What to look out for?
Most often, diastasis recti (DRAM) or abdominal separation can be seen with a protruding dome down the length of the tummy, particularly around the belly button. You may notice this in every day movement, such as when getting up or lying down in bed.
You can assess your tummy if you are at least 8 weeks post-delivery.
A diastasis occurs when there is a gap of more than 2.8cm (around 3 fingers
spacing) between the abdominal muscles.
Here are some simple steps to help
you identify DRAM:
on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
your fingers on your belly button.
your head and neck slightly off the floor as if to do a sit-up or crunch, while
tightening your abdominal muscles. Press your hand down gently between your
abdominals, horizontal to your spine. If there is a gap larger than 2 to 3
finger spaces, you could have DRAM
these tests above and below your belly button, and measure for gaps in these
How can a Physiotherapist help?
A proper assessment is required to determine the
management plan. The aim of treatment will be to restore the function of the
rectus abdominis and the surrounding core muscles, in order to stabilize the
pelvis during activity and under load. As your body recovers and with better
core muscles activation, symptoms such as lower back strains or pelvic pains
will reduce. Musculoskeletal physiotherapists trained in the treatment of DRAM
or physiotherapists specialized in pelvic floor dysfunctions can help assess
and tailor a programme suited for your condition.
free to send in any queries to our “Ask a Physiotherapist” Whatsapp Service at
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