What is a Diastasis Recti?
A diastasis recti is a separation of your outer most abdominal muscles. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis), is to support your back and your organs.
So why should you care if your muscles are separated? Because separated muscles are weak muscles. Separated muscles cannot do their job of supporting your back and organs. To achieve a strong core, your muscles must be close together.
When the muscles separate, the connective tissue (linea alba) joining these muscles stretches sideways. This sideways stretching of the connective tissue causes it to become thinner and weaker. So what happens is this weak saran wrap-like connective tissue is now ineffectively supporting your belly button, back and organs, instead of the muscles if they were close together.
The cause of a diastasis is from continuous stretching of, and intra-abdominal force and pressure on, this connective tissue that joins your outer most abdominal muscles. Right smack in the middle of this connective tissue is your belly button which is a weak spot. That is why when the connective tissue stretches sideways your belly button will become an “outie”. Pregnancy and doing crunches are examples of intra-abdominal “force” on the connective tissue. Wearing a front loading baby carrier or being in a hands and knees position are examples of “pressure” on the connective tissue. Movements where you arch your back will flare your ribs. This flaring will stretch your connective tissue. An example of this movement is swimming.
Everyone is born with their muscles separated! Usually, the muscles come together when we are three years old after our nervous system has developed. But this does not necessarily happen with everyone. Because our belly button is a weak spot in the connective tissue, even if the muscles do come together, there is always the risk that they may come apart again.
A diastasis can be closed on anyone at any time. It does not matter when you had your baby or even if you have had a baby at all! Closing a diastasis is all about healing the connective tissue. Everyone’s connective tissue will heal at a different rate. It depends on the “condition” of your connective tissue. The weaker your connective tissue the longer it will take. Also, the connective tissue on people who have stretch marks will take longer to heal.
Healing the connective tissue is all about putting it in a better (narrow) position, bringing blood flow to it and protecting it when doing any type of activities so it is not being stretched nor does it have any intra-abdominal force or pressure on it.