A Rectus Diastasis is a separation in the rectus abdominis, also known as the “6-pack” muscle. It most often occurs during pregnancy. Sometimes it will spontaneously correct following birth, but it does not always. If you lift your head while lying on your back and the center of your belly protrudes out, you may have a rectus diastasis. Read on!
Why is it a problem? A rectus diastasis weakens the abdominal wall and the core. Your abdominals work with your pelvic floor, so a separation of your rectus abdominis muscles can make your pelvic floor less efficient. It can also contribute to prolapse and incontinence.
How is it measured? It is measured by the number of fingers you can fit between the muscle when lying on your back and lifting your head. Normal is 1/2 a finger above and below the belly button, and one finger at the belly button.
How is it treated? If greater than 4 fingers can be fit between the abdominal muscle bellies, an abdominal binder is recommended. If you use an abdominal binder, or a wide, non-stretchy scarf tied around your waist with the width of the scarf spread out from your hip bones to your rib cage, you need to keep the binder or scarf on 24/7. You can only take the binder or scarf off when you do your correction exercise below, or when you take a shower. You should keep it on at bedtime.
For all women with a rectus diastasis, corrective exercises are recommended. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place a sheet (receiving blanket works well folded on the diagonal) around your waist, crossed as if tying a knot and pull snug. Raise your head only, chin towards your chest. Hold for a count of 5, exhaling during the count. Lower your head as you loosen your grip on the sheet or receiving blanket. Repeat 10-30 times per session, 2 sessions per day. It should be corrected within several weeks. If it does not correct within this time, please see a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic health