Physio for abdominal pain and muscle separation (Diastasis)
The abdominal muscles are a group of 6 muscles that extend from various places on the ribs to various places on the pelvis. They provide movement and support to the trunk, often called the core. They also assist in the breathing process.
The rectus abdominus muscle is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It is responsible for the ‘6-pack’ look in very fit people. Rectus abdominus diastasis is a disorder defined as a separation of the rectus abdominus muscle into right and left halves. Normally, the two sides of the muscle are joined at the body midline.
In pregnant or postpartum women, the defect is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. It is more common in multiparous women due to repeated episodes of stretching.
A diastasis recti may appear as a ridge running down the midline of the abdomen. It becomes more prominent with straining and may disappear when the abdominal muscles are relaxed.
Research has shown that during pregnancy a diastasis can vary from a small gap of 2-3 cm wide (normal postnatal separation) to a space measuring 12-20cm width along the whole length of the recti muscles
Approximately 30% of women have a separation evident at eight weeks postnatally
Unfortunately many women return to inappropriate abdominal exercises with a diastais. This can prevent or delay recovery and contribute to a range of associated problems.
Treatment for this condition may include:
- advice on modifying everyday activities to avoid straining.
- support garments such as tubigrip to support and aid the abdominal muscles.
- Staged exercises for the deep abdominal muscles to gain control and improve the positioning of the rectus abdominus muscles closing up the diastasis.
- Avoiding inappropriate abdominal exercises which may worsen the diastasis.