One of the major abdominal muscles in the body is the rectus abdominis (“six pack muscles”) which are long, flat vertical muscles that run along the abdomen. The function of these muscles is to hold internal organs and to stabilise your core. During pregnancy, the belly expands and the connective tissue (linea alba) down the middle of the rectus abdominis muscle begins to thin and stretch out. This is known as the Rectus Abdominis Diastasis or Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle (DRAM) as shown in this illustration.
This happens due to various hormones that are released during pregnancy causing ligaments and connective tissue to relax. After pregnancy and when your hormone levels settle to their pre-pregnancy level, the separation of the abdominals can heal and the muscles can come together again. However, sometimes this isn’t the case and you may be left with a gap which may dome or peak out, especially when straining (e.g. coughing, getting out of bed, sitting up) and this ‘doming’ may disappear when you relax your abdominals.
Often it can be challenging at home to rebuild your core strength and certain traditional core exercises such as sit ups may exacerbate your condition by making them tighter and also pushing them further apart and stretching the connective tissue further. Abdominal separation can be corrected with specific exercises.
Your Physiotherapist Can Help You
A Physiotherapist can clinically assess for abdominal separation, give advice for management at home and write an individualised home exercise program to reduce and correct abdominal separation. If you’d like to find out more about how our Physios can help you, press the button that’s below.
This blog was written by Carolyn from the Beverley practice.