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How to Diagnose and Heal Ab Separation

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Motherhood can bring you a wave of profound joy, love, and unmatched satisfaction. However, it often introduces many physical hurdles that come with or after pregnancy. One common challenge you may face during this transformational journey is Diastasis Recti, also known as abdominal separation or ab separation. Many mothers frequently encounter this condition postpartum or shortly before childbirth. It is essential to understand it in order for you to develop a comprehensive approach to healing and embark on the right path toward a successful postpartum recovery.

What Causes Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is primarily caused by the stretching and thinning of the linea alba, a connective tissue band that runs down the center of the abdomen. As the growing uterus puts significant pressure on the abdominal muscles, pregnancy is one of the most common factors that contribute to the development of diastasis recti. Hormonal changes during this period can significantly weaken your abdominal muscles and further exacerbate the condition.

However, it's important to note that physical activities such as lifting heavy objects or conditions like obesity can also increase abdominal pressure, leading to diastasis recti. As a result, it is crucial for new mothers to be aware of these factors and take appropriate precautions to prevent or manage diastasis recti during the delicate phase of pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

What Are the Possible Symptoms of Diastasis Recti?

Recognizing the potential symptoms of diastasis recti is a vital step in understanding this condition and seeking the right care. Diastasis recti can manifest in various ways, indicating the presence of abdominal muscle separation. Some common symptoms include:
- Pooch or bulge in the stomach, especially when contracting the abdominal muscles
- Lower back pain
- Poor posture
- Constipation
- Bloating
- Abdominal discomfort and pain
- Loss of bladder control
- Accidental bowel leakage
- Musculoskeletal problems like pelvic instability
- Pelvic organ prolapse, involving organs slipping down and bulging into the vagina
- Poor self-image
- Lower quality of life

How to Check for and Diagnose Diastasis Recti

Prior to seeking professional help for an official medical diagnosis, you can perform a self-test at home by lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, positioning one hand across the center of the abdomen while placing the other hand under the head and neck. Gently lift your head and apply pressure to the abdomen using your fingertips, detecting any separation between the muscles. If you feel a space of more than two finger widths, you should contact a doctor.

Medical professionals normally diagnose diastasis recti for you through a postpartum physical examination. You will need to position yourself comfortably during the examination, assuming the same posture as the self-test, while allowing medical professionals to assess for a gap between the rectus abdominis muscles, confirming the presence of diastasis recti.

How to Improve Diastasis Recti

To effectively manage and improve diastasis recti, you are advised to adopt a multifaceted approach that combines proper exercises, lifestyle modifications, and potential medical interventions. This combined method allows you to work towards closing the gap between the rectus abdominis muscles and restoring strength in the abdominal region.

Exercises for Diastasis Recti

As mentioned above, adding specific exercises to your usual fitness routine can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and close the gap associated with diastasis recti. The following exercises target different areas of the body and focus on core stability and muscle engagement, which can be helpful for restoring strength and function to the abdominal region. These include:
- Pelvic tilts
- Heel slides
- Abdominal compressions
- Modified planks
- Side-lying leg lifts
- Wall sits

Possible Medical Treatments for Diastasis Recti

While the effectiveness varies, diastasis recti can possibly be managed through various medical treatments, including physical therapy, the use of abdominal support, or surgery. Physical therapy can strengthen your abdominal muscles and aid in closing the gap, while the use of abdominal support can help alleviate pressure on the abdominal muscles. In severe cases, surgery may be the last resort to repair the separation and resolve the issue.

How to Know If Diastasis Recti Is Healed?

Determining if diastasis recti is deemed healed requires examination of the width of the gap between the rectus abdominis muscles. When the gap measures less than two finger widths, it generally means that it is recovered. However, consulting with a medical professional is always the recommended course of action if you are looking for an accurate diagnosis and continuous treatment options for diastasis recti.

Reach out to Sentosa for support

If you are currently suffering from Diastasis Recti or ab separation and are seeking more professional advice to improve your condition, please reach out to Sentosa for help. Located in Switzerland, we provide specialized exercises and postnatal wellness services, including Pilates, women's physiotherapy, and more related services, with guidance from certified coaches and professionals.

Sentosa can offer the therapeutic support you need during this transformative phase of motherhood and help you overcome Diastasis Recti or other similar physical issues you may encounter post-pregnancy, helping you fully enjoy the wonders of being a new mother.
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