Did you just have a baby?  Are you having trouble getting back to your previous level of exercise?  Do you notice a ‘bulge’ happening in your belly when you do planks or crunches?  Do you have lower back pain, urinary leakage or pain in the pubic area?  

If so, you may have Diastasis Recti Abdominus (DRA)!

What is an Abdominal Diastasis Recti Separation (DRA)?

Diastasis recti abdominus (DRA) is a separation of the 2 halves of the rectus abdominus muscle along the central connective tissue seam within the abdominal wall called the linea alba.  DRA can occur due to pregnancy, sudden weight gain, obesity or incorrect biomechanics with lifting and/or working out.   

What symptoms might I experience if I have a DRA?

When DRA is present, it leaves the abdominals in a weakened state, altering the relationship between the abdominals and the pelvic floor.  This decreases the ability of the pelvic floor to contract efficiently and effectively.  This inefficiency and weakness can lead to lower back pain, sexual dysfunction, urinary stress incontinence, fecal incontinence and/or an inability to return to exercising/sports.  This imbalance can also lead to the formation of trigger points (areas of hypertonic muscle)  in the inefficient abdominal muscles causing pelvic pain, urinary urgency, pain above the pubic bone or referral pain to the vulva and/or bladder.  

Tips to avoid making DRA worse! 

  1. Avoid sudden weight gain.

  2. Avoid coughing or sneezing or lifting without engaging your abdominal muscle first.

  3. Avoid abdominal exercises such as crunches.

  4. Avoid daily activities or exercises at the gym that make your belly “pop out” or “bulge”

  5. Avoid “jackknifing” or sitting straight up out of bed...roll over onto your side, drop your legs down and push yourself up with your arms

  What can I do if I think I have a DRA?

 Here at Zion PT, our pelvic health specialists are trained to diagnose width, depth and severity of a DRA and then perform gentle manual techniques to help reduce the separation.  Once we’ve achieved partial or full closure, we give progressive exercises to further close and/or maintain closure to transmit load across the linea alba.  Exercises are progressed from isolation exercises of the transverse abdominus muscle (your innermost core muscle) and pelvic floor muscles to more functional positions replicating activities of daily living or exercises/workouts one wants to get back to.  Functional taping and braces are used if necessary.  

Regardless of whether you are post-partum/recovering from childbirth or suspect your urinary incontinence or lower back pain may be due to abdominal weakness due to DRA, please call (212) 353- 8693 or email info@zionpt.com to make an appointment with one of our pelvic health specialists to be evaluated and treated!