Diastasis rectus is a condition where the outer most layer of your abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominous muscles or “6-pack” muscles) have separated. Normally, the rectus abdominous muscles are held tightly together via strong connective tissue called the linea alba.
A Diastasis rectus occurs when the linea alba stretches, widens and splits, causing a separation of the rectus abdominous. This split is usually more prevalent in pregnant women. As the foetus grows the linea alba widens and stretches to accommodate the growing baby. However, it is worth noting that you don’t have to have a history of pregnancy to be susceptible for rectus diastasis. In fact, anyone who has had many years of abdominal loading with poor technique (this includes males) can be at risk of abdominal separation.
The abdominal wall is quite unique in that there are several layers of muscles that are interconnected via lots of intertwining fascial connections (aponeurosis). The rectus abdominous sits anteriorly, whilst the obliques (internal and external) and the deep transverse abdominous are situated more anterior laterally. The transverse abdominous has a direct link to the pelvic floor muscles within your pelvic cavity that assists with everyday bowel and bladder function.
These connective tissue attachments all contribute to the linea alba; therefore, a separation of the linea alba will affect the function of the entire abdominal wall. Subsequently, this condition can affect the ability for the abdominal wall to stabilise the trunk during movement, maintain optimal posture, maintain adequate intra-abdominal pressure (which can lead to prolapse or herniation), support normal respiration, as well as impacting on pelvic floor function (which can lead to incontinence). Thus, diastasis of the rectus abdominous can lead to non-optimal strategies for posture, movement and/or breathing which creates failed load transfer leading to pain, incontinence and/or breathing disorders.
The good news is, with the right education and guidance on safe exercise prescription, your abdominal separation can be improved.
Here at PhysioNorth we offer a safe and unique environment in which our friendly Physiotherapists can provide you with all the tools you need to regain optimal pain-free function and, if required, regain urinary continence.
Call our friendly team on 4724 0768 for appointment bookings.
Written by Lauren Metropolis – Physiotherapist at Physionorth.