Diastasis Recti (aka abdominal separation)


What is Diastasis Recti?

Also known as abdominal separation, Disastasis Recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles that is 2.7cm or greater in size. The rectus abdominis is a pair of muscles that run vertically down each side of the abdomen. Diastasis recti occurs when the linea alba (connection tissue between the two rectus abdominis muscles) is stretched. The condition is most common in newborns, pregnant or postpartum women, or women with high birth weight of child or multiple birth pregnancies. The condition is almost painless and often goes undetected for long periods of time.

How to test for diastasis recti? 

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place on hand over your stomach with your fingers pointing towards your toes.

2.Gently press your fingers into your navel region as you bring your head off the floor and tuck your chin to your chest. This will force your rectus abdominis to engage.

3. Repeat this 2” above and below your navel to see if the separation is different higher or lower.

If you have a two finger gap between the rectus abdominis muscles as they contract then you may have diastasis recti. If you have a 4 finger gap that is considered severe diastasis recti. If you think you may have diastasis recti it may be worth consulting your doctor to roll out other conditions.

What happens if it’s left untreated?

If not properly managed Diastasis Recti can get worse and start to affect your quality of life. Unable to fully contract your anterior core you are likely to have some chronic low back pain. Some also have pain during sex, constipation, or urinary incontinence. Lifting heavy objects or exercise in general may also become quite difficult. Additional complications such as weakened pelvic alignment and altered posture can also occur.

How to avoid making it worse?

Do NOT do crunches to strengthen your core. Crunches are likely to make your diastasis recti worse by further separating the rectus abdominis muscles and stretching the linea alba. Any core exercise you do for Diastasis recti should be focused on pulling the abdominals in and not pushing them outward.

How can the therapists at KATC treat Diastasis Recti?

Most cases of diastasis recti can in fact be treated with visceral manipulation therapy followed by proper core strengthening techniques. In order to try and close a diastasis, a series of techniques involving the mesentery in the abdomen can be performed. The mesentery anchors the loops of the small intestine to the back of the abdominal wall. Often this is a major site of restriction and will actually exaggerate the diastasis opening. Once you treat the mesentery, the root of the mesentery and any associated restrictions within the loops of the small intestine, the diastasis can begin to close. Visceral treatment can be quite successful and often only involves a few sessions before real change can be seen.


Tyson Montgomery – Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach
Rileigh Alger-MacColl, CAT(C) - Certified Athletic Therapist

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