Torn abdominals? Here's how to check
Diastasis recti is a fairly common condition of pregnancy and postpartum in which the right and left halves of Rectus Abdominis muscle spread apart at the body's mid line fascia, the linea alba.
Widening and thinning of the mid line tissue occurs in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall as they grow and belly expands, in conjunction with pregnancy hormones that soften connective tissue, as well as with postural changes. A mid line of more than 2 to 2.5 finger-widths, or 2 centimeters, is considered problematic. A small amount of widening of the mid line happens in all pregnancies and is normal; however it can influence core control and function. Diastasis recti occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies. Some postpartum women's midlines close to less than 2 finger-widths spontaneously, but for many, the tissue remains too wide, causing problems.
How to test for Diastastis Rectius Abdominis (DRA)
Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
Roll your upper body off the floor into a "crunch," making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
You should do this test for any and all activities you are wanting to get back to as your core may be functioning well (i.e. not bulging, doming or separating) with lower level activities (like a crunch), but is not functioning well (i.e. bulding, doming, separating) for higher level tasks (like single or double leg lowers/ lifts, planks, lifting children, v-sits, etc.). It will be task specific with each task demanding different levels of core engagement and coordination.
If you find you are bulging or doming with certain tasks, please stop those until you are cleared by your physiotherapist and you have had the chance to properly rehab them. Doing activities that further reinforce the separation can make it worse, possibly contributing to difference issues like lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and more.
If you are unsure, contact your local women's health/ pelvic floor physiotherapist.
FYI: Men and children can also have DRA and can be contributed to by breath patterns, neural inhibition, hernia's, thorax and rib positions and more. I do treat men and children for DRA as well.
(Photo credit: www.pamelamorrisonpt.com)
Disclaimer - Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.