Diastasis Rectus Abdominis

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA) is a condition that effects 3 million men and women each year. It is most common in pregnant women, in fact 2/3 of expectant mothers will experience related symptoms. DRA is when the 2 sides of the abdominal muscles separate due to the tissues connecting them becoming loose and stretching them apart. DRA is common in pregnant women because of the uterus expansion due to the growing fetus, and the stress around the surrounding structures. The rectus abdominis, specifically the linea alba (connective tissue connecting the right and left sides of the rectus abdominis), is the structure that is most effected. The constant stretching of the linea alba causes it to become weak which can eventually lead to a separation, especially during the second and third trimester due to rapid growth.

Risk Factors

  • Expecting mothers over the age of 35
  • Being pregnant with multiple children
  • Having multiple pregnancies within a relatively short amount of time
  • Strenous physical work
  • Obesity
  • Weightlifting
  • Frequent or rapid changes in weight

Symptoms:

  • Visible or palpable seperation of the rectus abdominis
  • Distended abdominal wall
  • Pelvic floor dsyfunction such as incontinence, leakage, or constipation
  • Low-back, pelvic, and/or hip pain
  • Poor posture
  • If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above reach out to a licensed physical therapist. An abdominal examination will identify the degree of separation of the core muscles, and a posture, movement, and muscle evaluation.

Quick Tips:

  • No sit-ups or push ups
  • No quadruped positions
  • No swimming
  • No yoga positions such as downward facing dog
  • No lifting of heavy objects
  • No front-loading baby carriers
  • Rolling to your side when you get up off the floor or bed
  • Lift the pelvic floor, engage abdominal core and bend at the knees and hips when lifting small objects

A physical therapist can help with DRA by addressing postural training, core activation, sequencing and coordination during functional activities and education. Bracing techniques can help to provide external support especially during the early stages of rehab and will provide proprioceptive feedback for the proper positioning of the midsection.

Don’t live in pain or shame if you are experiencing DRA. Seek help and regain function to improve your quality of life by visiting a physical therapist today.