What is Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA)?
• In the third trimester of pregnancy, it is normal for the connective tissue in the center of the abdomen to stretch to allow the baby to grow and changes the appearance of the “six-pack” muscle.
• The connective tissue can regain its tension and return the rectus abdominus to its original state for some women.
• However, studies have shown nearly 50% of women are still experiencing issues from diastasis recti six weeks after delivery.
How to check to see if you have a diastasis recti?
• Lying on your back with knees bent, “sink” your fingers near center of abdomen near belly button and feel for both width and depth of separation.
• Now lift your head and shoulders off the floor and feel for change in gap.
• If the separation if more than two fingers width and is deep, you may benefit from consultation with physical therapist for complete assessment.
What is the best approach to strengthen abdominal muscles without causing harm?
Through clinical experience and clinical studies, we have learned that a diastasis is not resolved by a few stock exercises to attempt to “close the gap”. Pelvic Floor Physical therapist are trained to perform an evaluation of entire musculoskeletal system, including examination of pelvic floor and abdominal muscle strength,
flexibility and performance of the entire “core”.
All of these factors must be considered when starting an exercise program and are very individual for each woman postpartum depending on pregnancy and birthing experience.
Once you have been evaluated, an individual treatment program will be developed for you that may include the following recommendations:
• Abdominal wall taping
• Abdominal binders
• Myofascial release to address trigger points, abdomen, diaphragm and pelvic floor
• Scar release to abdomen and perineum
• Pelvic floor muscle coordinated with lower abdominal strengthening
• Diaphragmatic breathing for relaxation and lengthening of muscles
• Functional movement progression
• Education on how to correctly move to avoid worsening of condition
Sandy Gibson, PT, PRPC, CMPT is a Certified Pelvic Rehabilitation and Manual Physical Therapist at Manual Therapy of Nashville. Sandy has over 30-years experience and combines a strong orthopedic background with her skills as a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Sandy Gibson, PT, PRPC, CMPT Certified Pelvic Floor and Manual Physical Therapist
Twenty years ago I began my training in the specialty of Pelvic Physical Therapy. I am passionate about the work I do, because of the life-altering changes I have witnessed in my clients who have received the treatment that resulted from my training. I have a strong background in orthopedics that combines nicely with pelvic floor physical therapy to be able to treat the whole body. I also bring to the table a high level of empathy and motivation to provide excellence in care because of my own experience with pelvic floor related issues. I look forward to meeting you and serving your needs.
Tennessee Family Doulas, located in Franklin, TN is a doula agency committed to creating calm and comfort for parents and newborns. From education to placenta encapsulation, our services are built to assist in all phases of birth and postpartum.