What is Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?

Diastasis Rectus Abdominus (DRA) is more commonly known as separated abs.  If you’re currently a mama or a birthing person that is considering getting pregnant you’ve probably heard about this!  So let’s talk about what it is and what it really means.

Our abs are made of a few layers of muscles!  The superficial muscles we all consider when talking about the core is the 6 pack abs which are called the Rectus Abdominis.  The Linea Alba is the tissue that separates the Rectus Abdominis.  Then we have the Internal and External Obliques that go in opposite diagonal directions.  The Internal Obliques are on the same layer as the Rectus Abdominis, while the External Obliques are over top of those two layers. Underneath all these layers, the bottom and first layer is the Transverse Abdominis which wraps horizontally around our stomach.  So our typical knowledge of what our core is quite complicated.  Then to make you think even more, really our core is from our neck and shoulders to our Pelvic Floor, which are the bottom muscles of our core.  It’s a total unit that needs to work together.  That will have to be for another future blog.

Diastasis is defined as the separation of normally joined parts.  So when we say Diastasis Rectus Abdominis that means the Linea Alba has stretched and become loose and feels as though our abs have separated.  What we know is that 100% of women by 35 weeks in their pregnancy will have some level of DRA. (PMID: 25282439)  It is completely normal for this to happen because our bodies are doing a lot to make room for you little baby to grow until it’s time for birth.  It’s a good thing!

Another fun fact is that we are all born with DRA.  ALL babies are born with DRA and with breath and innate movement babies naturally heal and bring their abs together by around four to six months.  This is referred to as Development Kinesiology.  So what does this mean?!  It means that through breath work and functional and basic human movement we can work to slowly bring your abs back together.  Not the medically accepted “2 finger” test”, I mean actually bring them back together to almost just like before, or be darn close to like before you were pregnant.  As I said it takes baby’s months to bring theirs back together, so we have to assume it will take us about the same amount of time.  This is hard for most women who want to “bounce back”.  They are so set on getting back to where they once were that they aren’t exactly willing to slow down.  I think if we can slow down in our immediate postpartum and work to rebuild slowly that we will come back stronger because we have worked to create a strong foundation!  Can you imagine possibly feeling stronger than before your pregnancy?!

DRA is common during pregnancy and postpartum but should be able to be resolved.  But DRA can be found in individuals, male or female, that are overweight, physically inactive, or sedentary.  Separated abs are a symptom of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. The separated abs are not the cause of a weak core but a result from a weak core.  Remember I said our pelvic floor is part of our core.  If the bottom support of our core is weak then it can lead to other symptoms or issues.

Did you have separated abs at any point?  Do you still have separated abs?  I would love to hear from you!

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