Is There a Way to Correct Diastasis Recti?

After pregnancy and childbirth, the abdominal muscles change and there may be separation in the abdominal area. This is known as diastasis recti. We'll explain why it occurs and some solutions to help improve this condition.
Is There a Way to Correct Diastasis Recti?

Last update: 28 April, 2021

Diastasis recti or abdominal separation is a gap between the abdominal muscles. It happens when the muscles lose their tension and damage the tissue that keeps them together.

Among the muscles that cover the body are the abdominal or recti muscles that are located in the torso area at the abdomen. Two vertical, parallel parts make up the recti muscles. They’re attached to the linea alba, which is a collagen-filled fibrous structure that runs through the middle of the abs.

Therefore, it’s called diastasis abdominis or diastasis recti abdominis because there’s separation in the midline of the anterior rectus abdominis.

It’s usually found in people with obesity, people who physically exert themselves or carry a lot of weight, and, mainly, it’s correlated with women who have had several normal pregnancies and deliveries.

Types of diastasis recti

When a woman goes through pregnancy, her abdomen normally grows anywhere from 3 to 14 inches during the span of 9 months. Therefore, the abdominal muscles stretch out and may cause two different cases of diastasis recti.

Anatomic diastasis

The first case is when the abdominal muscles tear and cause a bulge in the gut area. This type of diastasis recti happens due to physical activity.

A person with diastasis recti.

Functional diastasis

Another case of abdominal separation is when the abdominal muscles separate. In these types of cases, the area becomes very vulnerable and requires medical attention.

Consequences of diastasis recti

Some of the consequences that might arise during pregnancy are the following:

  • Pelvic floor loses firmness, causing prolapse, urinary incontinence, and constant pelvic pain
  • Bulging in the middle of the abdomen that appears while exercising
  • Back-pain
  • Weak hold on internal organs
  • Looseness and sagging in the abdominal area
  • Burning sensation, poor digestion, and heaviness
  • Umbilical, inguinal or abdominal hernia, as this case published in MediSur points out

Abdominal muscles often separate or wear down during pregnancy. If you think you might have this condition, you should make an appointment with a medical specialist.

You can try out the doctor’s advice along with the following suggestions. However, these remedies aren’t a substitute for medical treatment, but a complement to it, if authorized by the professional.

Solutions for diastasis recti

First things first: someone who has diastasis recti might not fully recover from this condition because their muscles have gone great changes and can’t regain their former strength. Some of the best ways to strengthen your abdominal muscles are:

1. A little physical activity

Avoid picking up things on the floor such as coins, bills, or small items because it causes pressure on your abdominal area.  Also, try to stop getting up out of bed while supporting yourself on one side.

2. Exercise

A woman doing exercise on a mat.

Hypopressive abdominal exercises will help recover the affected area and tone your rectus muscles. However, as this study published in Medicina Naturista points out, the results aren’t very significant, so more research is still needed.

You should know that because these aren’t traditional ab workouts, you should seek advice from a specialist.

Learn how to deal with Pregnancy After Thirty-five

3. Diastasis recti splint

There are splints available that are specially designed for treating diastasis recti. You should keep in mind that they’re not meant for long-term use.

4. Healthy diet

Eat healthily and you’ll avoid constipation, which in turn helps your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor by relieving them from excess pressure when going to the bathroom.

A healthy salad for diastasis recti on a plate.

5. Strengthen your pelvic floor

Before pregnancy, tone your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, as this paper published in the Revista Clínica de la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Costa Rica points out. There are special exercise routines that you can follow, which prevent this medical condition from getting worse.

If your abdominal separation continues to get worse, there are other solutions available:

  • Physical therapy
  • Electrostimulation
  • Abdominal surgery

Recommendations for diastasis recti

Although abdominal separation is an unpreventable condition, there are some recommendations that you can try to minimize the muscle detachment as much as possible:

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects during pregnancy
  • Use the least amount of force as possible during everyday activities
  • Include large quantities of proteins and vitamin C in your diet
  • Take in plenty of liquids on a daily basis

We’d also like to mention that some mothers develop this condition during their pregnancy or even after giving birth. The recommendations above can help manage the symptoms of abdominal separation. However, we recommend never neglecting your diet, physical exercise and see a doctor if your condition worsens.

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