What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is the widening of the gap between the 2 sides of the Rectus Abdominis muscle. The split occurs at the Linea Alba, the mid-line collagen structures of connective tissue at the front of the abdomen. In simple terms, it’s the reason you may still look pregnant and you’re struggling to shift the baby belly.
Also known as: DR, diastasis, ‘Divarication of the Recti’, DRA or ‘Rectus Divarication’
Frequently called: Mummy tummy, mum tum, baby bulge, baby belly.
What does a diastasis look like?
Your tummy might still “look” pregnant, many months or even years post-baby. A DR can present itself as a ‘doming’ of your tummy, exacerbated when performing crunch type movements or sitting up from a lying position on your back.
What does a diastasis feel like?
Aesthetic concerns are not the whole story. The separation isn’t the problem in itself, it’s a symptom of a weak core (and pelvic floor). This can lead to a lack of strength and stability in the entire pelvic region and midsection.
You may also experience pain in your back, pelvic region or tummy when doing every day movements or exercise.
Causes of diastasis recti
A diastasis is a sign of excessive and uncontained intra-abdominal pressure or loading. It is common in the later stages of pregnancy, particularly second or subsequent pregnancies.
Pregnancy isn’t a cause of DR but the increase in load and the inevitable shift in alignment contribute to the root problem. Excessive and ‘un-contained’ intra abdominal pressure.
The Rectus Abdominis is only 1 of 4 layers of abdominal muscles: the Transverse Abdominis (deepest muscle layer) the Interior and Exterior Obliques (next 2 layers) that form your waist, and then the Rectus Abdominis is on the outside.
Unfortunately, when the 2 parts of the muscle separate or come apart, the connective mid-line is stretched and weakened as it takes all other muscular and fascial support structures along with it. This leaves the front of the abdomen unsupported and unstable. This seam of connective tissue is designed to be taut, at full length and aligned in a vertical (breastbone to pubic bone) plane. But it cannot perform or function optimally when alignment is ‘out’. So it’s alignment we need to address to address a diastasis!
How to test for diastasis recti at home
Exercises for diastasis recti
Finding and connecting with your core and pelvic floor
Step 1: FIND and RECONNECT your core and pelvic floor.
Step 2: GENTLY draw your belly button back towards your spine as you slowly exhale. THAT’S THE MUSCLE. Keep your chest and shoulders relaxed.
Step 3: Ensure you aren’t sucking in forcefully, you are subtly drawing in your lower abs. Your shoulders, chest and pelvis shouldn’t move when you gently engage your core.
❌Don’t tuck your pelvis under as you do this
❌Don’t hold your breath
Correcting your alignment
Step 1: Walk more, wearing minimal shoes.
Step 2: Sit less and stand more. Change how you move.
Step 3: Get out of heeled shoes.
Follow these steps to help you to tweak and adjust your alignment. Poor alignment and posture is what is causing that uncontained pressure and loading.
Next you must learn to ENGAGE and RELEASE your core and pelvic floor effectively in everyday movements. You want to be able to carry your baby, push your pram, lift your children, do housework, walk, and move with a strong and functional core. MUTU retrains, reconnects and strengthens your core.
You won’t always have to engage and release your core consciously but this is where we start.
Then you strengthen your transverse abdominis muscle to help draw your rectus abdominis muscle back in together, helping your tummy to feel stronger and look flatter.
Exercises that require caution with diastasis recti.
Straight leg lifts or holds whilst lying on your back
Baby belly FAQ
Am I too late to heal my diastasis recti and pelvic floor? My youngest is in school or my kids have long flown the nest!
Your postpartum recovery doesn’t have an expiration date! It’s never too late to strengthen, restore and reconnect those muscles, and really start to feel stronger, more stable and symptom free again. We have mums in our community who’s children have long flown the nest. MUTU is designed for every mum, no matter when she had her babies.
Does MUTU recommend using a splint or belly binder?
MUTU System does not advocate binding or splinting your stomach as a solution to diastasis recti. MUTU System is based on the principle that ‘the gap’ is a symptom (not the root cause) of a compromised, weak core and a misaligned pelvis (inside and out). To focus on the gap only without addressing these fundamental issues, along with effective metabolic fat loss techniques… is not going to get you the tummy you’re after. If you choose to wear a wrap of some description postpartum for comfort and support, this is fine. But it is absolutely not an element of our program. We’re not Anti- ‘comfort-or-support‘ – just Anti- ‘a-binder-will-fix-the-problem‘!
*906 women surveyed