Diastasis recti (DRA) is a condition characterized by the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, commonly known as the “six-pack” muscles, along the linea alba (the connective tissue running down the midline of the abdomen). It often occurs during pregnancy when the growing uterus puts increased pressure on the abdominal wall, causing the muscles to stretch and separate.
Physical therapy can be highly effective in the management and rehabilitation of diastasis recti. Here’s how physical therapy can help:
- Assessment and education: A physical therapist specializing in women’s health can evaluate the severity of diastasis recti and provide education about the condition. They can teach proper body mechanics and postural awareness to minimize strain on the abdominal muscles.
- Core stabilization exercises: Physical therapists can design an individualized exercise program that focuses on strengthening the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles. These exercises help restore strength and stability to the abdominal muscles, reducing the separation.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: Learning and practicing diaphragmatic breathing techniques can help engage the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, while minimizing excessive pressure on the abdominal wall.
- Manual therapy techniques: Physical therapists may use manual therapy techniques, such as myofascial release or gentle massage, to address any muscle imbalances or restrictions that may be contributing to diastasis recti.
- Postural and body mechanics education: Physical therapists can provide guidance on maintaining proper posture and body mechanics during daily activities and exercises to prevent the worsening of diastasis and promote optimal healing.
- Gradual progression of exercise: Physical therapists can guide individuals through a gradual progression of exercises, ensuring that the abdominal muscles are appropriately engaged and strengthened without further straining the separated tissues.
- External support devices: In some cases, physical therapists may recommend the use of abdominal binders or supportive garments to provide external support and promote healing of diastasis recti.
Our skilled team of pelvic floor physical therapists will perform a thorough evaluation to identify areas of impairment that are contributing to your symptoms. Following the exam, your physical therapist will work with you to create a plan of care that best suits your personal goals and needs.