Have you got a diastasis recti ?
Do you know how to measure your separation?
Diastasis recti is a complex-sounding name for a simple condition; a split in the membrane joining the ‘6 pack’ abdominal muscles together.
Knowing how to measure this split or separation helps you manage diastasis recti repair and understand when you may benefit from diastasis recti exercises.
This short video shows you how to measure the size of your diastasis recti.
Video duration: 2 minutes 54 seconds
Please scroll down below this video for written guidelines for measuring diastasis recti and links to abdominal exercise videos
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis recti is a separation of the two rectus abdominis or 6 pack muscles where they join in the midline.These two abdominal muscles are joined together by a strong membrane called the line alba.
When the abdomen is stretched during pregnancy or labor, the joining membrane can split and separate causing a diastasis or separation of the rectus abdominis muscles.
What Causes Diastasis Recti?
During pregnancy the abdominal muscles stretch and the linea alba widens.
The linea alba can split apart in pregnancy or during labor when the abdominal muscles contract forcefully.
A number of factors can cause or increase the likelihood of diastasis recti including:
- Hormone changes during pregnancy
- Pregnancy weight gain
- Inappropriate pregnancy exercises
- Large birth weight baby
- Repeat pregnancies
- Multiple births
How to Measure Diastasis Recti
The diastatis or split is measured by the number of finger spaces that fit in between the two rectus abdominis muscle bellies.
Normal = 1 finger space separation or less
Diastasis recti = a separation or gap between the rectus abdominis muscles of 2 or more finger spaces or a distance of 25 mm (just less than 1 inch).
This means the tissues joining the rectus abdominis muscles have either stretched or split apart. Obviously the wider the gap, the larger the separation of these two muscles – some women can very large separations of greater than 4 finger spaces.
Women with diastasis recti usually benefit from Physiotherapy treatment including safe abdominal core exercises.
4 Steps to Measure a Rectus Diastasis
Lie down on your back with both knees bent
Place your index and third fingers directly above your navel (belly button). Your fingers should be aligned side by side and pointing in the direction of your feet.
Raise your head and shoulders off the supporting surface and feel for any gap or dip under your fingers.
Lower your upper body back to starting position.
Diastasis Recti Exercises
Unfortunately many women return to the gym after pregnancy and childbirth and perform inappropriate abdominal exercises to flatten their belly. Many standard core abdominal exercises delay healing or worsen rectus diastasis.
Exercises for rectus diastasis are those core exercises that retrain the control and support of the deep core abdominal muscles (e.g. transverse abdominis).
Exercises to avoid with diastasis recti are similar to those unsafe core abdominal exercises to avoid with pelvic floor problems. These are the core abdominal exercises that involve strong and/or repeated contractions of the rectus diastasis or 6 pack muscles.
Diastasis recti exercise to promote healing typically starts with relearning how to activate the core abdominal muscles correctly before progressing to safe core abdominal exercises that are progressed over time.
3 Key Points for Measuring Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis or ‘6 pack’ muscles in the mid line of 2 or more fingers spaces.
The size of this muscle separation is readily measured by feeling for the gap when lying down and raising the head and shoulders off the supporting surface.
If you have a diastasis recti avoid intense and repeated abdominal core exercises involving the rectus abdominis muscles as these exercises can potentially delay diastasis healing.
Physical Therapy Post Natal Exercise Guide
Physiotherapist Lisa Westlake’s book Mum’s Shape Up teaches you how to exercise safely and get back in shape after pregnancy and childbirth.
Easy to read and complete with a comprehensive range of core, fitness and strength exercises, Mums Shape Up is an excellent resource for new mums to exercise safely, lose weight safely and regain strength and fitness.