During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretch and your linea alba muscles, which is the band that runs right down the centre of your abdomen, can separate. This separation is called diastasis recti and doesn't tend to resolve on its own. You can develop diastasis recti in your first pregnancy, but it's more common in women who've had more than one pregnancy. Classic signs of diastasis recti include lower back pain and having a tummy bulge that can make you look pregnant when you're not. There's no quick fix for diastasis recti, but your linea alba can be healed and the separation closed by working with a physiotherapist who has experience treating women postnatally. Here's an overview of three ways a physiotherapist can help with diastasis recti:
Your pelvic floor provides support to the muscles in your abdomen, so ensuring your pelvic floor muscles are strong can help your linea alba to heal and reduce the time it takes to close the separated muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles are often weak after a vaginal delivery, so working with a physiotherapist to strengthen these muscles is often an essential first step in healing diastasis recti. Kegels are targeted exercises that work on toning and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles you use when you stop urinating midstream. Your physiotherapist will work with you to design a Kegel program that you can fit into your daily life, and they will follow-up with you to ensure the pelvic floor muscles are getting stronger, which can be assessed using a functional questionnaire or by carrying out an internal exam.
Some abdominal exercises, such as stomach crunches, can actually make diastasis recti worse. However, to close a gap in the linea alba, it is necessary to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Your physiotherapist will show you how to do safe strengthening exercises, such as advanced leg extensions, that get progressively more challenging as your linea alba heals. You will have to do these exercises independently at home, and your physiotherapist will check on the progress of your abdominal muscles at regular intervals and make adjustments to your exercise regime as necessary.
A supportive splint is a soft splint that's similar in appearance to bump bands that some women wear during pregnancy. Your physiotherapist will measure you for a custom-made supportive splint that will gently draw your abdominal muscles together. You will have regular follow-up appointments with your physiotherapist, and as your linea alba muscles start to knit together, you will be measured for a new splint to ensure the splint continues to be effective and offers the correct level of support at each stage of your healing journey.
If you'd like to take the first steps to heal diastasis recti, schedule an initial assessment with your physiotherapist.Share
29 December 2020
Thanks for visiting my health blog! My name's Caroline. A few years ago, I started to notice changes in my appearance. My hair was dull, my eyes were circled with dark rings, and my skin was looking like it used to when I was a teenager. When cosmetic treatments didn't fix things, I realised the problem wasn't on the outside of my body—it was on the inside! That's when I started researching how to keep myself healthy. To my surprise, improving my internal health really worked. A few years down the line, I feel and look better than ever, and I'm ready to share what I've learned with all of you.