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2 Ways to Bridge the Gap of Diastasis Recti

You may not have heard of diastasis recti abdominis, but you may have seen it, especially when it affects up to 40 per cent of postnatal women in Singapore. This lesser-known condition occurs when your recti abdominis – better known as your abdominal muscles – go through diastasis, or separation. A vertical gap widens and separates your abdominal muscles down the middle, which causes the stomach to bulge.

At Your Fingertips

Not sure if you have diastasis recti abdominis? Our Senior Principal Physiotherapist Sylvia Ho describes a simple way to check:

  1. Lie on your back on a solid surface, with your knees bent around 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor
  2. Place your fingers on the connecting tissue between your abdominal muscles
  3. Lift your head up slowly off the surface
  4. You should either see a bulge growing, or feel your abdominal muscles closing around your fingers

Can diastasis recti abdominis be treated?

While more severe cases may require surgery, diastasis recti abdominis can usually be treated through physiotherapy. However, our Senior Principal Physiotherapist Sylvia Ho cautions that the methods have sometimes been a point of contention.


Treatment 1: Reducing the Gap

For clients who want the gap reduced, a common method has been to activate your abdominal

muscles through movements like a sit-up. However, Sylvia points out that research has shown that the tissue between your abdominal muscles that connects them becomes more lax – forces cannot be transferred across your trunk. This could lead to instability in the area, as well as back pain. In addition, a dome-like bulge may occur if you were to get up from a lying or sit-up position.

Treatment 2: Reducing the Waistline

It is common for clients with diastasis recti abdominis to want to trim their waistline too. Core muscle activation will usually do the trick, which pulls in your abdominal content. However, a side effect of this is that the gap widens. Sylvia explains that it is not necessarily a bad thing – core muscle activation means that the force can be transferred better across your trunk because the tissue between your abdominal muscles becomes tighter, which provides better stability in your lower back and pelvic region. There is also less likelihood of the dome-like bulge occurring.

The best of both worlds

For ideal results, Sylvia recommends a combination of the two treatments – reducing the waistline, followed by reducing the gap. Tighten the tissue between your abdominal muscles first, before tightening and bringing together your abdominal muscles. Through this treatment, aesthetic goals, as well as staying pain-free in your lower back and pelvis, are achieved. While Sylvia is confident of its results, she adds that the treatments will continue to evolve based on new research.

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