Diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) – also called separation of the tummy muscles - refers to a widening or separation of the front wall of abdominal muscles (the “six pack” muscles) in the midline. These muscles are usually connected by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba. Stretch or tearing of the linea alba causes a widening of the space between the rectus muscles on either side. This typically occurs during pregnancy, as the abdomen grows. However, it can also occur in the non-pregnant population in both men and women. Sometimes there may be a genetic weakness.
Many women do not like the “domed” appearance of their abdomen that often results from DRA and a lot of women complain they feel “weaker” or “less supported” through their abdominal wall as a result of their DRA. However, DRA does not cause discomfort in most people. Although evidence shows DRA is not linked to low back pain, pelvic pain, a difficult delivery, C-section or incontinence, there is plenty of misinformation out there suggesting otherwise.
Common misconceptions or misinformation about DRA include:
If you are concerned about your DRA or if you have a significant DRA, there are a number of things you can do to help improve it. The earlier you address the problem the better. However, you can still improve a DRA months or years down the track if you learn the right techniques.
A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help treat DRA by:
If you have any concerns about your abdominal support during or after pregnancy, contact us for help and advice on how to improve things.