Diastasis Rectus Abdominis

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:

  • You should never do sit-ups or crunches – actually learning how to do this type of movement in a supportive way is very functional and can help.
  • You need surgery to fix DRA – this is rarely the case. Most women can improve DRA with exercises.
  • You need to wear a support corset 24/7 to make a DRA better – while support garments can be helpful in the short term, they are a temporary measure and do not need to be worn full time.
  • DRA is abnormal and can cause other serious problems such as back pain or bladder leakage – in fact studies show DRA occurs for the majority of pregnant women, is not linked with back pain or incontinence, and will generally resolve within the first 8 weeks postpartum.

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:

  • Teaching you how to use your abdominal muscles in a supportive way, including with day-to-day tasks, to help close the gap.
  • Teach you specific abdominal exercises which will help support your abdomen and make it stronger.
  • Providing fitted garments. These can give temporary support, especially in the early days or weeks after having a baby. However, you should gradually wean off these garments over time, and you should not need to wear them all the time.
  • Improving your posture and the way you do daily tasks. This can have a big influence over improving your abdominal wall support.

If you have any concerns about your abdominal support during or after pregnancy, contact us for help and advice on how to improve things.

Next Steps

Contact Us for more information on how a Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help you with these problems.

Make A Booking or call us on 8132 0566, or 0404 296 069 to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist about your condition.

About Us

Jenny Phillips is a Titled Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist. She offers skilled advice and management for all types of pelvic floor and pre- and post-natal problems.

Life Cycle Physiotherapy also offers 1:1 exercise sessions for women at all stages of life.

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92 Carrington St, Adelaide, SA 5000
+61 404 296 069
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