top of page

Understanding Diastasis Recti: Strategies for Management and the Role of Physical Therapy

Diastasis Recti, often referred to as DR or DRA, is a prevalent condition that affects many individuals, particularly pregnant and postpartum women. In this post, we'll dive into what diastasis recti is, its occurrence, the anatomy involved, strategies for managing its symptoms, and the crucial role that physical therapy plays in addressing and alleviating the challenges associated with DR.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti occurs when there is a thinning of the tissue between the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominis. This is the pair of muscles running vertically down the front of the abdomen, or what you would think of as the “six pack” muscles. This separation creates a “gap” or fabric which has become loosened or unwoven, leaving the connective tissue, known as the linea alba, stretched and weakened. 

While this condition can happen in anyone, it is much more common for postpartum women because of the plethora of changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. It is normal and expected for the abdomen to stretch in order to be able to accommodate the size of a full term fetus. There are no strong correlations for the development of DRA, and it really cannot be prevented. Again, it is quite normal and necessary for the tissue to stretch great lengths in the 3rd trimester. 

Strategies for Managing Diastasis Recti

Although we may not be able to prevent is there are ways we can manage the symptoms. Management of diastasis recti involves a multifaceted approach that includes lifestyle adjustments, awareness of body mechanics, and targeted exercises. Here are some strategies that we teach as pelvic floor therapists that can help individuals cope with DR-related concerns in the postpartum period:

  • 1. Posture Awareness: Similar to symphysis pubis dysfunction (Blog on PSD HERE), maintaining proper posture is vital for managing DR. Avoiding movements that strain the abdominal muscles or put unnecessary pressure on them can make a significant difference.

  • 2. Breathing Techniques: Learning and practicing proper breathing techniques can enhance core stability and reduce intra-abdominal pressure, promoting healing.

  • 3. Core-Strengthening Exercises: Engaging in exercises specifically designed to strengthen the core muscles without exacerbating the separation is crucial. Professional guidance, such as that from a physical therapist, can be immensely beneficial in order to avoid further damage

  • 4. Abdominal Binders or Support Bands: Sometimes these provide external support to the abdominal region, helping to maintain proper alignment and reduce strain on weakened muscles. These are best used early on postpartum and not as a long term solution.

Read more on how we support pregnant and postpartum women dealing with diastasis recti and other conditions.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Diastasis Recti Management

Physical therapy is instrumental in the effective management and treatment of diastasis recti. A skilled pelvic therapist can create a personalized exercise program to target the specific needs of individuals with DR. Interventions may include:

  • Core-Specific Exercises: A physical therapist can guide individuals through exercises that specifically target the deep core muscles, promoting their activation, coordination with the pelvic floor, and strength.

  • Manual Therapy Techniques: Hands-on techniques, such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilizations to targeted areas (like the back and  ribs), can aid in improving muscle function and reducing tension in the affected area.

  • Education on Body Mechanics: Therapists can provide valuable insights into proper body mechanics, helping individuals understand movements and activities to avoid, preventing further strain on the stretched muscles.

  • Progressive Exercise Programs: Physical therapists can design progressive exercise programs that gradually increase, ensuring a safe and effective recovery. 

While diastasis recti can present challenges and discomfort, there are effective strategies for managing and addressing this condition. The skilled pelvic therapists at Gaia Women’s Physical Therapy have helped dozens of mamas in regaining strength, stability and confidence in their bodies after childbirth. If you are experiencing symptoms of diastasis recti, consider reaching out to a qualified pelvic therapist today to embark on a journey toward a healthier and more resilient core.

Click HERE to request your appointment now!


bottom of page