Diastasis recti abdominis refers to the stretching of the linea alba which widens the gap between the rectus abdominis muscles. It commonly occurs in pregnant and post-pregnant women, and with larger weight gain.
Let's first understand the importance of the abdominis muscles, which involve the transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and rectus abdominis. The core muscles are critical to support the trunk and spine, holding the organs in place, and respiration. Specifically, with the rectus abdominis, it is separated by the linea alba. During pregnancy, the hormones will soften the linea alba and the weight gain increases the pressure inside the abdominal. The abdominal muscles and connective tissue also stretches out mechanically as the uterus expands. DRA can highly impact one's daily activities, like lifting, walking, getting up from bed, and more. Since other body parts will compensate for the weakness of the rectus abdominis to maintain bodily functions, it may overuse other areas of the body, and ultimately cause pain.
There are different variations with DRA with a higher prevalence than the separation happening above the umbilicus, compared to below and at the umbilicus. Patients are diagnosed with DRA when they present increased inter-recti distance (IRD). Professions will palpate the distance with fingers or ultrasonography for a more precise diagnosis. Physiotherapy can properly educate us on how to use our deep core muscles.
Stay tuned for more exercise to improve and prevent DRA!