If you are pregnant or postpartum and your stomach seems to be protruding more than normal, you may have a condition called diastasis recti. I know, it’s a mouthful! This condition affects approximately 30% of women in which the abdominal muscles widen causing the stomach to create a bulge. It’s very important to identify the condition so that you do not engage in any activities or exercises that may worsen the separation. There are a lot of questions women have when they have this condition. What exercises should I do to help? Is this something that happens to everyone and can you prevent it from occurring?
When Does Diastasis Recti Happen?
This is a condition that mostly only happens during pregnancy. It’s usually in either the second or third trimester and doesn’t happen to everyone. It happens when the muscles within the abdomen separate so the connective tissue stretches either side causing a bulge in the lower abdomen.
Are There Movements That You Need to Avoid??
Do not strain your stomach muscles by lifting heavy objects or when constipated.
Do NOT do exercises that utilize your upper abdominals such as sit ups, crunches, push ups or planks.
One things is important is that you avoid panicking about the condition. Your doctor will keep an eye on your stomach muscles and will determine when more excessive treatment such as Physical Therapy is needed. Our pelvic floor specialists at our St. Francis location will create an individualized exercise program based on your needs to decrease risk of increased abdominal separation. They will guide you through exercises that are safe for the condition and will aim to strengthen your lower abdominal muscles. The Physical Therapy will educate you in proper technique with specific functional tasks, such as rolling, transferring, lifting and other tasks that require effort to decrease your risk of separation worsening.
Top Exercise for Diastasis Recti
The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and wraps around the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis, functioning like a corset. We need to train this muscle before we strengthen it. The first step is to learn to isolate the muscle.
Lying on your back, bend both knees up, draw your belly button in and think about connecting or drawing the muscle, as if closing two book covers. You should feel the tension under your fingers when palpating your lower abdomen. Hold contraction for 5 sec while breathing normally. Repeat 10 times.
Kaitlyn Grell, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
St. Francis Physical Therapy
PTC_therapy August 8th, 2018
Posted In: General