There is so much information going around about diastasis rectus abdominus (DRA) right now. Let’s sort through the noise and look at what is actually happening.
First and foremost, a DRA is not a hole in the abdominal wall or a hernia. The abdominal wall is a series of 8 muscles—4 on each side—along with layers of connective tissue called fascia between each muscle.
The 4 layers of muscles from deepest to most superficial are the transverse abdominus (TrA), internal oblique (IO), external oblique (EO), and the rectus abdominus (RA). The muscles are surrounded by fascia that envelopes the RA and meets in midline along what is called the linea alba. This is clearly defined in GQ magazine with “6-pack abs.”
A DRA appears when there is decreased coordination of one layer of the muscles. This could be that the one side of the abdominal wall is able to activate better than the other, one side has trigger points or pain and isn’t able to fire as well, or that both sides have been stretched and both sides are trying to learn how to come back on line.
Think pregnancy. 100% of women who have been pregnant will have experienced a DRA during that last trimester and right after delivery. For some women, the DRA corrects itself during postpartum. For others, they need some help recovering the coordination of the muscles. This is where pelvic floor PT comes in. We can look at the ability of your abdominal wall to be able to activate from side to side—does one side activate better or faster than the other? Does one side have a trigger point or painful spot that keeps it from turning on as efficiently? Is there just decreased strength on both sides in the deep core? Does the rectus abdominus muscle want to try to do all the work?
PT is an effective part of recovery after baby or abdominal surgery if you have a DRA or if you feel like your core is just not as strong as it should be. We have a series of exercises of that is an excellent start for turning on your abdominal wall and checking if you have a DRA. It is important when starting an exercise program with a DRA to make sure that you are able to fire both sides and that you are able to pull across the linea alba. This can help to improve your ability to pull across the diastasis which ultimately helps to close the DRA. As you advance your exercises, continue to check on your ability to activate the abdominal wall on both sides and that you don’t notice a return of any bulge or valley along the linea alba. If you find that you are not able to advance past a level, that is a good time to check in with PT to help problem solve the cause.
Click here to watch a video on how to check for DRA: https://www.foundationalconcepts.com/?p=1619&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=1560
Check out our basic core progression on you tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foecp012Slw
And our favorite beginner exercises for DRA: https://www.tiktok.com/@thepelvicchronicles/video/7083980364342906154?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&lang=en
We also offer a free, 15 minute phone consultation to answer your questions and ensure we re the best place or you for our post-partum and pelvic health. Click HERE to request a free consultation.