Diastasis Recti: More Common Pathology Than You Know
What is Diastasis Recti?Diastasis Recti Dysfunction is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle along the band of connective tissue that runs down the middle of the abdomen known as the Linea Alba. Abdominal separation or the clinical term “diastasis recti” is more common than you think. You may have heard of abdominal separation happening to pregnant women but did you know this can also happen to men and children?
In women, some risk factors include:
• Abdominal wall laxity from previous pregnancy or abdominal surgery
It is most commonly seen during pregnancy due to increased laxity in connective tissue and increased size of the baby causes this separation to allow more room. Some closure of the diastasis recti takes place as a part the recovery process post partum. While a small amount of residual widening of the abdominal midline is normal, separations that are greater than 2-centimeters are proven to be symptomatic later on.
I’m a Man – Can I Have Diastasis Recti Too?Diastasis Recti can occur in men as well. In older men, it can occur due to age related physical decline and muscle weakness, and weight fluctuations such as rapid weight gains as well as dramatic weight loss.
In younger and more active men, faulty posture while weightlifting and using improper body mechanics during workouts such as performing sit-ups vigorously are leading factors.
Further weakening of the abdominal and repetitive injuries can lead to multiple separations along the muscle therefore multiple hernias as well. Large tears will be more visible to the naked eye while small separations can be detected with palpation of the abdominals.
Babies can have Diastasis Recti that occurs due to genetic factors. They may have one or multiple separations along the muscle where multiple organs may start protruding out. The signs of diastasis recti become noticeable when an affected infant uses his abdominal muscles, such as when he tries to sit up or laugh. A raised ridge that runs from the sternum to the groin may appear. As the normal development occurs, Diastasis Recti is expected to close by the age of 24-36 months. In case of a non-closure, diminished core strength and decreased spinal stabilization can delay milestones and cause delayed motor development. According to the Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Center, as many as 30 percent of babies who have Diastasis Recti at birth may develop Central Coordination Disorder and delayed development later in life.
Do You Have Diastasis Recti? Time for a Quick Self- Assessment:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet on the floor.
2. Place your fingertips of one hand at your belly button and while your abdomen is relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
3. Lift the top of your shoulders off the floor into a “crunch” position.
4. Feel for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis and take note the number of fingers that fit into the gap.
5. You will want to test this again approximately 1-2 inches above and below your belly button to determine the length of the gap.
Diastasis Recti Can Lead To Many Other Conditions…Since the Diastasis Recti plays a key role in abdominal musculature stabilization and strength, it can lead to SI joint pain, low back pain, umbilical hernia, pelvic floor dysfunctions such as urinary, fecal and flatal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse as well as abdominal discomfort with certain movements, such as rolling over in bed, getting in/out of bed, and lifting heavy objects. Based on YOUR presentation, you may need to refrain from some activities and start with a certain treatment protocol that is tailored towards YOUR needs. You will need a precise and thorough examination of your musculoskeletal system and symptoms as well as all contributing symptoms in order to remove all contributing factors. Let us take care of YOU. Schedule an appointment at Bella Physical Therapy where a specialized Pelvic Floor Physical therapist can evaluate you and develop a customized exercise program just for you.
Dr. Aylin Mahmut, PT, DPT, MCMT
References1. Wright, M. (2014). How to Fix a Diastasis Recti. As The Pelvis Turns. Pelvic Health & Rehab Center Blog. Retrieved from https://www.pelvicpainrehab.com/female-pelvic-pain/2306/fix-diastasis-recti/
2. Banas, T. (2017). Diastasis Recti in Infants. LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved 29 January 2018, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/238920-diastasis-recti-in-infants/
3. Blanchard, P. (2005). Diastasis recti abdominis in HIV-infected men with lipodystrophy. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved 29 January 2018, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-1293.2005.00264.x/full
Image Sources1. https://www.babycenter.com/0_diastasis-recti_10419293.bc