Updated: Feb 2
Diastasis Recti (DR) is a normal and *completely badass* adaptation of the body to an increase in abdominal pressure. Conservative estimates conclude that 100% of women who are pregnant develop it by 9 months. However, DR isn’t exclusive to the bodies of women-building-humans. Men, women who are not pregnant and children can develop DR as well. It’s a valuable adaptation of our resilient bodies to changing requirements.
For pregnant women, baby and their cargo continue to grow therefore needing more space. The body is all, “Cool - I’ll stretch out some of this here fascia to make a larger and more supportive space”. 💥
So let’s back up and get nerdy:
We have fascia all over our body.
Fascia is made up of connective tissue (think: biological web-like saran wrap). It’s thinner in some places, thicker in others. It takes the shape of both sheets and bands. It provides support for nerves, blood vessels, muscles, organs, etc. It’s VERY neat.
The *linea alba* describes a section of fascia that connects the sternum, pubic symphysis, and the two “inside” lines of the the rectus abdominis (more commonly referred to as “The 6-Pack Muscle”). It essentially travels down the midline of our torso.
When we’re pregnant (or our abdominal cavity senses an increase in pressure pressing forward), our linea alba (re: fascia) starts to stretch and thin out. As it stretches and thins, the inside edges of the 6-pack muscle slowly move away from each other. However, they are not splitting or permanently separating as DR is sometimes framed. (Now - as with any muscle, abdominal muscles can tear but that isn’t diastasis recti.) If you have DR, all that means is that your body listened to the messages we are sending it. Your body loves you and is trying to do you a solid.
Now that we’ve established that DR is simply an adaptive response to an increase in abdominal pressure, what happens when that pressure gets…. birthed?