This topic may be one of the most overlooked and undertreated abnormal anatomical findings. It is quite possibly the biggest indicator that you are going to be dealing with chronic, episodic low back pain, hip pain, bowel/bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, or digestive issues. If you have experienced a combination of one or more of the above-mentioned problems then keep reading, you may just get the answers you need.
What it is?
Diastasis Recti is a stretching, thinning, or “pulling apart” of the linea alba, which is a fascial tissue that connects the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. This rectus abdominis muscle is the “six pack” or the anterior paired abdominal muscles. A diastasis is considered any gap in between the rectus abdominis that is 2 fingers width or greater. All women have a diastasis in late pregnancy and a little more than 50% will have a diastasis after 6 weeks post-partum. The more astonishing statistic is that a little over 30% of women will have a diastasis that is retained after 12 months post-partum. The depth of the diastasis is also taken into consideration and the softer the depth, often the more core dysfunction that is present.
How to check for it?
Lay on your back. Palpate the midline of your abdomen while doing a curl up (lifting your neck and upper back slightly off the surface). If you can feel a gap and it is greater than 2 finger widths, then it is most likely a diastasis. Make sure to go to a qualified provider for definitive diagnosis. A diastasis can be above the navel, around the navel, under the navel and the whole distance of the linea alba. Where it is located gives the qualified provider insight into which abdominal muscles to focus on for rehabilitation.
What does treatment look like?
Like any condition treated at Function First, treatment looks specific to your presentation. Having a diastasis recti implies that your cannister (core) is not activating properly or maintaining pressure properly. In the case of post-partum diastasis, it is because of the added stretching and thinning of the muscles as the abdomen grows with the fetus. In cases of low back injuries, it is because of guarding mechanisms that develop after the injury. With any soft tissue injury, certain muscles become overactive because they are guarding the injury and other muscles become deactivated due to poor innervation or mechanics. Diastasis recti are found in the male population as well. They are found either because of injury or because of body habitus changes.
Whatever the cause of the diastasis, a treatment plan can be developed. The rehabilitation plan will be directed towards the core, whether that is the diaphragm, the pelvic diaphragm, abdominal muscles, or a combination of all of them. It will also involve myofascial release techniques directed either towards hypertonic musculature or scar tissue. At Function First, the function or your biomechanical system comes first and dictates your specific treatment plan. This is achieved from the extensive knowledge base of Dr. Cindy.
Do not just entrust your care to anyone. Not every provider is the same and no two patients are the same. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.
Have a great day!