I thought I’d write this month about diastasis recti, I have started working with a number of post-natal clients recently and when doing my initial 1:1, one of the questions I will always ask is, if the client has been diagnosed with diastasis recti. Many women are unaware is what diastasis recti is and therefore if they even have one. Hence their return to exercise may not be appropriate.
So I thought I’d start here by discussing diastasis recti. Firstly what is it? Diastasis recti is a separating of the rectus abdominis muscles (the 6-pack muscles) because of a partitioning and thinning of the linea alba, which is the facia that connects the muscles down the middle. In pregnancy this separation occurs to allow room for the growing baby. It occurs in the third trimester in 66%-100% of pregnancies. It is important to note that pregnancy isn’t the only the only reason why someone would have a diastasis. It can also occur after major weight loss, by regular lifting of heavy weight or after midline abdominal surgery amongst a few other things.
What happens to this separation post birth? After delivery there is a normal closure of the gap by 12 weeks, but what is important is that the gap is closed using specific training without the muscles doming because otherwise it could leave a prolonged diastasis.
So, what can be done about it? Well, as ever, Pilates can most definitely help! Once I’ve got an idea as to the depth and with of the diastasis as well as what the muscles are doing, I will then start on a rehabilitation programme to suit each individual client, be this on a 1:1 basis or in my small group classes. I would normally start with transverse abdominus (deep core muscles) and pelvic floor work in neutral spine. As my client progresses and once I’m happy no doming is occurring we can add in more work to strengthen the 6-pack muscle. Clients need to also be aware of correct lifting techniques, how to change positions, particularly when getting in and out of bed and that sit ups should be avoided.
The post-natal period is demanding and can require huge demands on the mother, both from a physical and mental point of view, hence part of the reason I enjoy teaching my post-post-natal Pilates classes so much is that they give mother the opportunity to focus on all aspects of their physical wellbeing.
Please do get in touch if you do have any further questions.