My first baby was born 15 years ago! I did not know anything about raising a baby or the toil it would take on my body. I do not even know how I learned of diastasis recti abdominis. I remember volunteering proudly in physical therapy school to be the patient with this abdominal muscle separation. See at the time I was told by people I love dearly that having a “pouch” was normal. Even after having more than 30 student/instructor hands feel my belly (not a good idea in retrospect) no one could tell me how important it was to heal my tummy. I spent many years with back pain from injuries lifting patients, babies, and having poor mechanics as a result of this gap in my abdominal wall. Is it really about the gap? How do I heal this structure?
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) is a separation of the rectus abdominis (6 pack muscles) at the linea alba. The line alba is a ligamentous structure that is at the center of your tummy. This condition can occur as a result of pregnancy, but can also be found in women that have never had children (and in men). DRA occurs when the linea alba, begins to lengthen and weaken as the baby (belly) grows. The function of the core is dependent on integrity of the linea alba and the ability of this structure to withstand intra abdominal pressure and improper loading. The DRA can cause decreased trunk stability, pelvic floor impairments, and can encourage improper movement patterns and or transitions.
Test the Gap:
This separation is commonly assessed by health care practitioners by following these steps:
1) Lie down on their back with your knees bent up and feet on the surface.
2) Assess the tension or integrity of the tissue over the linea alba or midline of the rectus abdominis, and belly button from sternum to pubic bone.
3) Gently lift your head 1-2 inches off the surface and assess the tension again. Place your fingers over this area and feel for the two sides of the rectus abdominis come together. How many fingers will sink into this area?
4) Repeat the above steps but now assess the integrity of the tissue under your fingers. Does it feel firm? Mushy? How deep can your finger sink into the gap?
The integrity of the structures under your fingers is much more important than the gap.
If you feel that your LA is soft or mushy than adding gentle abdominal work will aide in supporting the core’s integrity. However, healing the tummy is much more than simple core exercises. Having proper posture during transitional movement patterns, addressing muscle imbalances, breathing strategies, assessing pelvic floor recruitment, using stress reduction techniques, keeping hydrated, and having healthy nutrition can significantly impact the ability for your tummy to heal.
I would like to take you on a journey to learn a new and in depth approach to healing your weakened core. You will learn about the key components to fixing your core, no matter how many years after baby you are. You will learn when is it okay to resume traditional core training exercises after baby, or if these traditional exercises are appropriate for you. I am a firm believer that each women’s body is as unique as her spirit. It is my desire to guide you on what is good for the health of your core. Will you come on this journey with me to unlock the secrets of healing your core? I am currently on this journey too as I just had sweet baby number 4. I hope you join me because I want to support you and I also want to create a community of women that can become strong together.
Strong is the new beautiful!
Dr. Rachael xoxo