We hear about abdominal separation all the time, but the education surrounding it is still so lacking. The questions I hear on a weekly basis are “How do I fix it?!” “Can you tell me if I have it?” “Is it bad?”. So let’s first talk about the “what”.
WHAT IS ABDOMINAL SEPARATION?
The sciencey name for abdominal separation is Diastasis Recti (DR), or less frequently written as DRAM (Diastasis of Recti Abdominus Muscle). Imagine your Rectus Abdominus (RA), or 6 pack muscle splitting vertically in two and the two sides coming apart. As baby grows, so too does your abdominal cavity, this pushes and displaces the musculature, connective tissue, organs and bones to make space. When you think about it, no wonder separation is such a common occurence, and thank goodness our bodies are so brilliantly capable of adapting.
DR can sometimes be seen easily, in other women not so much. The severity of your separation and likelihood of it repairing are dependant on things like: number of pregnancies, time between them, your age, nutrition, exercise history and lifestyle. We must also remember a separation does not mean you are broken and need fixing! It is absolutely possible to live and function perfectly well with a gap. Assessment is key.
We must not forget that DR is a condition of the entire abdominal wall which comprises of 4 abdominal muscles. The internal/external obliques, and transverse abdominus lie deep to the rectus abdominus, and you cannot experience stretching of the 6 pack without the deeper layers being affected too. We need to look at the function of the entire abdominal wall and pelvic floor. We can then move on to improving functional strength of the entire body.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE IT?
DR can be measured by palpating the area while in a “mini-crunch” position, and this is something I offer my postnatal clients as an important part of their pre-training assessment. If you don’t know, it is important to see someone who can help you identify the separation and guide you on what to do next. If you are experiencing ongoing back pain, incontinence/leaking, pain around the abdomen or other symptoms it is essential to be seen by a womens health physio.
I am 100% committed to providing my clients with a holistic approach to healing which involves working under the guidance of health care professionals. This ensures safety, correct diagnoses, and then being able to construct an appropriate plan to move forward. Information is your friend, and the more you have about your own body, the better armed you are.
HOW DO I FIX IT?
Mindset. This is key. To “fix” an ab separation you must consider why it is important to you, is it necessary and what is realistic? Like I said earlier, a gap does not mean you are broken and need fixing. There is a real body-denial around pregnancy and motherhood. Denying that changes have occurred or denying that they may be our “new normal”. We always want to look and feel our best, but if you work on this from the inside out, the whole process is fast-tracked. Positive thoughts and feelings about your body will help lead to physical change and healing.
Yes there is a lot you can do to rehabilitate DR after bubs. I love helping women through that process. However, the question is always “is the gap functional?”. Are you living a life pain free, able to perform your daily tasks without issue, without incontinence, without abdominal wall weakness?.
Being a mum
It requires strength of all kinds. We need to find ways to fall in love with our new bodies and heal them. You are not broken and you do not need fixing.