Specialist Diastasis Rectus Abdominis Clinic

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis, also known as abdominal muscle separation or ‘mummy tummy’, is a condition that should not be feared and generally responds well to specialised rehabilitation by appropriately trained professionals.

Some degree of separation at the midline during pregnancy is considered normal and likely to occur in all women towards the end of pregnancy. Generally, it resolves naturally in the weeks following childbirth. In approximately 1/3 of women, for reasons currently unknown, it does not resolve naturally. In these circumstances it is advisable to access some rehabilitation.

Our Advanced Physiotherapist specialises in the treatment of Diastasis and also provides training for other health professionals. She has blogged and interviewed internationally with key experts in the field of Diastasis and is currently undertaking 2 different research projects on the topic.

Diastasis is not only a cosmetic issue. It can have functional implications for the abdominal wall and it is also understood to impact negatively on body image and self-confidence. We need much more research to understand Diastasis better, however it may increase the risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction. It is important to get professional guidance as soon as you realise you may have non-resolving or dysfunctional Diastasis. Rehabilitation between pregnancies is also recommended in order to prevent the progression of symptoms. Gráinne created a patient handbook to help women increase their understanding of Diastasis, how to assess it and what to do about it. 

Gráinne also developed a treatment proforma to help guide clients and clinicians about important points to consider in order to successfully manage Diastasis Rectus Abdominis. It is not just about the gap!! You can find out more about this proforma in a free downloadable blog or via a pay to view 1.5 hour webinar Gráinne delivered.

She has led a National campaign on Diastasis Recti in partnership with UK pelvic health campaign group Pelvic Roar.

What is Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?

Also referred to as Diastasis, Diastasis Recti, Divarication Rectus Abdominis, abdominal separation and 'mummy tummy', it is a condition that is often poorly understood within our current healthcare model. It refers to a sideways stretching of the connective tissue joining the outermost abdominal muscle, the Rectus Abdominis, in the midline. The Rectus Abdominis is the muscle defined in a "six pack" and runs from your xiphoid process to your pubic symphasis.

The connective tissue joining the muscle bellies in the centre is called the linea alba. The linea alba is actually a fusion of the aponeuroses of ALL layers of the abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique muscles and the transverse abdominis). The more the connective tissue stretches sideways, the thinner and weaker it becomes. Both men and women can have Diastasis Rectus Abdominis.

What causes Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?
There is a lot that we still do not understand about Diastasis and why some people experience persistent separation and others do not. Repetitive, high loading abdominal exercises or activities resulting in frequent, excessive intra-abdominal pressure may contribute to the risk. The most common cause affecting women is pregnancy. Please note that it is NORMAL for everyone to experience some widening at the linea alba by the end of pregnancy however it should naturally resolve postpartum.
How do I know if I have Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?

Signs of Diastasis Rectus Abdominis include:

  • doming at the abdomen when getting up from lying or during a cough/sneeze or visual sinking in or hallowing at the midline during abdominal effort
  • decreased function and strength at the abdominal
  • a 'mummy tummy' that won't go away despite returning to prenatal weight and shape everywhere else.

You can check for Diastasis yourself in crook lying by feeling for a gap with your fingers along your abdominal midline while you lift your chin to your chest. If you are not sure how to do this you can find more information in our patient handbook. The best way to know for sure is to get assessed by someone experienced with Diastasis such as a Physiotherapist.

How does Diastasis Rectus Abdominis put you at risk?
When the muscles separate the function of the abdominal wall may be affected. This may result in compensatory movement patterns or postures. Although the research is inconclusive as to whether Diastasis can cause you to develop other conditions it is often considered to increase your risk of developing or exacerbating lower back pain, urinary incontinence/pelvic floor dysfunction, constipation and hernias.
How can ABSOLUTE.PHYSIO help me if I have Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?

We can assess, educate and guide you through appropriate posture, breathing, exercise and lifestyle changes to help you rehabilitate your Diastasis. We aim to restore balance in your core muscles and re-educate the stretched connective tissue to facilitate tension across the abdominal wall. It is essential that you address several factors in the rehabilitation of Diastasis and assess beyond 'the gap'.

Our Advanced Physiotherapist will utilise ultrasound imaging to further the evaluation and to help you visualise the connective tissue and muscle recruitment in order to facilitate your rehabilitation. Our approach addresses the WHOLE body, not just the separated muscles. We aim to progress you to returning to the sports/exercise/activities that you enjoy. We can also evaluate when conservative rehabilitation is not a suitable option for you and a surgical opinion is recommended.

For more information about our services or if you have a question email info@diastasis.physio.

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