What’s the deal with Mommy Tummy?
A condition called diastasis recti abdominis (“DRA”) afflicts millions of people globally every year. Studies differ on the exact number, but between 50% and 90% of all women who give birth wind up with diastasis recti.
What is diastasis recti?
Often colloquially called “mummy tummy”, “baby belly”, etc, DRA occurs when the abdominal muscles are separated vertically, along what’s called the linea albia. Clinically you would be diagnosed with diastasis recti if you have more than 2cm of separation while doing a hook lying curl exercise.
How does it happen?
Typically diastasis recti abdominis is the result of a growing fetus putting pressure on the abdominal muscles and causing them to separate. Of course, there are other ways that this type of pressure can happen, so we shouldn’t only associate the condition with pregnancy. While the majority of sufferers are postpartum women, DRA can also occur in men. It’s related to aging, weight fluctuations, weight lifting, or other circumstances that result in high pressure within the abdominal wall.
Should I get treatment?
Writing in The Pelvic Rehab Report, Dr. Ginger Garner highlights some of the complications that can come with DRA:
“Besides the obvious cosmetic and general strengthening concerns, why do we care about physical therapy care for a post-partum DRA? Spitznagle’s retrospective chart review of women presenting for gynecological care with a mean age of 52 found that 52% had DRA and 66% of them had a least one support-related pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Those with DRA were more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. Another study by Parker found a DRA prevalence of 74.4% among women with back or pelvic area pain who had delivered at least one child and sought [physical therapy]. They found a significant difference in pain levels in those with DRA and abdominal or pelvic pain compared to those without DRA.”
Where can I get help?
Think you may have diastasis recti abdominis? Want to put together a treatment plan? We know a few folks who can help. Check out the highly trained practitioners listed at www.pelvicrehab.com to find your local expert.
Can’t get to a clinician right away? Here’s an exercise you can try at home to try and improve DRA:
Spitznagle T, Leong F, Van Dillen L, Prevalence of diastasis recti abdominis in a urogynecological patient population, International Urogynecology Journal. 2007; 18: 321-328.
Garner, et al. “Diastasis Recti Abdominis: A Narrative Review“, Pelvic Rehab Report. 18 February, 2016