Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Diastasis recti is a condition defined as a separation of your outer most abdominal muscles. 'Diastasis' means separation, 'recti' refers to your ab muscles called the 'rectus abdominis'. Rectus abdomonis muscle is the muscle that covers the front surface of the belly area.
Who gets it?
It's very common among pregnant women, particularly who have multiple pregnancies, but it may also occur in men and children.
How to know if you have diastasis recti
A diastasis recti may appear as a ridge, which runs down the middle of the belly area. It stretches from the bottom of the breastbone to the belly button and increases with muscle straining.
How to diagnose it
The condition can be diagnosed by the healthcare provider with a physical exam. However, ultrasonography is an accurate method to measure rectus diastasis above the umbilicus and at the umbilical level.
A small separation of the midline at the abdominals, approximately one to two fingers’ width, is not a problem. But if the gap at the midline is more than 2 1/2 finger widths or does not shrink as the patient tighten her abdominals, then special precautions during exercise and other activities should be taken.
Other health implications
Diastasis recti can cause lower back pain, constipation, and urine leaking in both men and women. In some cases, it can even make it difficult to breathe and move around normally. In extreme cases, although rare it can also lead to hernia - bulging of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening.
How it's treated
For pregnant women, no treatment is needed. In most cases, diastasis recti usually disappears on its own. However, in children, surgery may be required if their condition does not improve or develop a hernia.
Some exercise may help improve the condition. But, care should be taken as some routine fitness moves such as crunches, sit-ups, pushups, press-ups, and front planks, can make the condition worse. Swimming and certain yoga poses like downward dog can also worsen the condition.