When I finish explaining to women about abdominal separations, or Diastasis Recti, there’s usually a look of shock and horror on their faces. “Will it ever go back together?” they ask worriedly.
Let’s set it straight. Yes, it is possible to heal a diastasis recti — with consistent and focused effort. Having an abdominal separation come fully back together is not the goal though.
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR) isn’t something many people are talking about in the fitness industry, but it screams for our attention because as a trainer you could be making it much worse.
DR is the resulting separation of the rectus abdominis muscles bellies, as the line alba becomes stretched and lax. The most common cause of diastasis recti is pregnancy, although it can be seen in men and children too.
The rectus abdominis and line alba becomes stretched anteriorly and laterally by the growing fetus during pregnancy, and the linea alba can stretch and widen.
While the muscle bellies are usually held very close together, in a DR they’re now separated. It’s commonly thought that at DR has an inter-recti distance (IRD) of at least two finger widths, although it’s common to be as wide as 5–6 finger-widths, or even wider.
Likewise, where the connective tissue is normally strong and shallow, it can become weak and deep, as in “push your fingers into your belly and feel pulsing” deep.
Who cares if a client has a DR?
Trainer should. Largely separated muscles and a lax linea alba are weakened support system. Limited support can lead to imbalanced muscle tone, postural deficiencies, and injuries that are waiting to happen.
If untreated client will eventually train their body to rely on other muscles (e.g. hip flexors) to stabilize their pelvis because the anterior core is now useless to them.
As a result, their low back pain will be rampant and they’ll continue to look 5 months pregnant well into the postpartum stage. Where have we taken them? A potentially bigger separation, a mummy tummy that won’t quit, and zero progress in training.
By Jessie Mundell at www.theptdc.com