Diastisis Recti is a separation of the linea alba, which is connective tissue that runs between the middle of the rectus abdominus (your “crunch” muscles). A lot of times, this occurs postpartum, but it can occur in anyone, even men, and can affect the function of your core. Because of how the abdominal wall expands during pregnancy, a study that looked at women at gestational week 35 week showed that 100% of women had a diastisis, while 39% still had a separation at 6 months postpartum (1). It’s normal to have a diastisis during pregnancy and into postpartum, but I usually tell my patients to wait until at least 6 weeks after delivery to check themselves for a diastisis, as tissues are still healing.
Symptoms of diastisis recti can include low back pain, pelvic floor issues like incontinence, abdominal wall bulge or pooch, abdominal doming or coning with activity, feeling weak and difficulty activating your core muscles. While these can be frustrating to experience, know that by working on the strength and coordination of muscles throughout your core (transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, etc) and retraining functional movement patterns can help improve symptoms and regain strength and tissue integrity.
There are a lot of exercise programs marketed to fixing diastisis recti. While I’m so thankful for the access to that information, sometimes the generalized programs might not work for every body. If you find you’ve been trying a program and need more personalized guidance, it might be time to find a pelvic floor specialist who can assess you, and tailor a program to your specific needs!