Diastasis Recti 101
Diastasis Recti (DR) is when the rectus abdominal muscles have stretched due to thinning of the linea alba (connective tissue). This does not necessarily mean that the connective tissue between the abs is torn. There may have been some micro tearing, but usually it is just thinned, weakened and stretched out. Tears may occur and can cause hernias. Diastasis Recti is technically a separation of 3 or more fingerwidths.
All women get some degree of DR or abdominal separation by 35 weeks of pregnancy. Women are told the tissue can heal on its own, and while it can happen for some, it does not address the lack of core/pelvic floor strength and coordination that occurs from being stretched for nine months. Reconditioning the core or ReCORE is recomended for all women postpartum, regardless of degree of seperation. Genetic connective tissue and thus, getting abdominal separation to heal on its own is can be very difficult. Connective tissue needs a few things to heal well (blood flow, consistency and load)
The thinned out tissue and stretched out abdominal muscles can regain tension again with specific progressive core/pelvic floor to full body and impact exercises. Wearing a FITsplint postpartum for 4-6 weeks is recommended if DR is larger than 2 fingerwidths (see splinting research) The good news is Diastasis Recti does not need to "close" all the way to regain function & strength. Knowing the exact width (while helpful) is not the most important measurement. Instead focus on regaining core & pelvic floor strength, stiffness and coordination. This will all help the core tolerate and generate Intra Abdominal Pressure again and return to run, jump and lift heavy successfully again.
If women are dealing with any pelvic pain or symptoms, have difficulty contracting or relaxing their pelvic floor -they should see a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Cert. Medical Exercise Specialist
USATF L1 Coach