In simple terms, the Rectus Abdominus (six-pack muscle) sometimes separates during pregnancy (see picture above) to accommodate growing baby bump.
It’s important to point out that abdominal separation happens in some, but not all pregnancies.
It’s vital though that if a client comes to you after birth (at any stage), presenting with abdominal separation, that you ensure you’re giving appropriate adaptations and modifications to not make the diastasis worse.
If you’re an Instructor, you must learn how to can perform a ‘Rec Check’ on your postnatal clients.
It’s a simple procedure, takes less than 30 seconds and is non-invasive, meaning your client doesn’t even have to lift their t-shirt up in most cases.
In my area where I teach postnatal classes, there isn’t a lot of ‘checking’ of the abdominals going on from Doctors, Midwives and other medical professionals.
So clients book themselves in for their check up after birth, and leave their appointment none-the-wiser.
I’d be interested to know if this scenario is similar where you’re based. Please tweet me @ClaireMockridge if you’re as frustrated as I am about this issue.
I’d love to be able to be able to sit here and list my ‘top 4 abdominal exercises to help fix diastasis recti’, but unfortunately it’s a bit like the old-school ‘spot reduction’ scenario if we take that approach.
A mum-to-be may have allowed her posture to change considerably during pregnancy, and all of the potentially incorrect lifting, carrying and feeding positions she places herself in now newborn’s arrived often exacerbates matters and contributes to further mis-alignment.
So, as Postnatal Experts, we need to not just address the abdominals themselves and stop focusing all of our efforts on this area.
Look at your postnatal clients’ shoulders, ribcage position, lower back arch (or lack thereof), check her ability to breathe thoracically, and be sure to ask her about her pelvic floor.
If she has any dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles, has a hernia, had varicose veins during pregnancy and has abdominal separation too, then Houston, we have a problem.
All four to those things mentioned are red flags.
Without addressing her pelvic floor and her alignment further up the chain of events, abdominal separation is there to stay or indeed much, much harder to treat.