Understanding Diastasis Recti Abdominis and Postnatal Rehabilitation
Diastasis Recti Abdominis, often referred to as DRA, is a common postnatal condition. However, it’s crucial to understand that DRA is not solely an aesthetic concern, and postnatal rehabilitation goes beyond addressing separated abs. The core focus of effective rehabilitation lies in regaining neuromuscular control and relearning correct movement patterns for everyday activities.
DRA is a condition characterized by the midline separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (commonly known as the “six-pack”) along the linea alba, a fibrous structure primarily composed of collagen connective tissue. It’s more accurate to describe it as thinning or stretching of the fascia, the connective tissue that connects the two sides of the abdominal wall together. This thinning can occur at various locations and to varying degrees along the abdominal wall. Diastasis recti can lead to a bulging or sinking appearance along your midline when subjected to stress, like when sitting up, planking, or doing pull-ups. This can give the impression of a protruding or “pregnant” abdomen, which is distinct from weight gain but results from difficulties in distributing the load across the core and/or inadequate abdominal muscle tone. The extent and location of a diastasis can vary, depending on the contributing factors.
While Diastasis Recti is often associated with pregnancy, it’s not exclusive to mothers. It can affect individuals with larger abdomens, athletes, and bodybuilders who may lift with improper techniques.
DRA typically begins in the 35th week of pregnancy due to the natural expansion of the belly. However, it becomes problematic when the separation persists 12 weeks after giving birth. Studies have shown that 39% of women still have diastasis at 6 months postpartum, and 66% of those with diastasis also experience some level of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pregnancy and childbirth pose significant challenges to a mother’s body, leading to several common postnatal symptoms. In addition to DRA, stress incontinence is another prevalent issue. Stress incontinence occurs when physical movements or activities, such as coughing, sneezing, jumping, running, or lifting, exert pressure on the bladder, resulting in urine leakage due to weakened sphincter muscles. Numerous studies emphasize the synergy between the abdominal wall and pelvic floor muscles, highlighting their co-contraction as essential for postural stability.
The connection extends to other typical postnatal symptoms like Sacroiliac (SI) and Low Back Pain, all stemming from altered abdominal structure and function and deficits in neuromuscular control. Shockingly, approximately 50% of postnatal women experience bladder and/or uterus prolapse, even after restorative surgery, which is the most effective therapy. This suggests that underlying factors, such as poor posture, altered breathing patterns, increased intra-abdominal pressure, and a weakened muscle corset, may persist and lead to symptom recurrence. Thus, proper training remains essential, even after restorative surgery, to prevent the return of these symptoms.
If you’re interested in addressing these issues and regaining postnatal well-being, consider signing up for our next postnatal course. We’re here to support you on your journey to a healthier, more vibrant life.
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