What Is Diastasis Recti? What Is The Scientific Way To Lose Weight While Suffering From It?
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) is more evident during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of the pregnancy and in some conditions, it may persist post childbirth.
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) is the separation of the outermost abdominal muscles. Many might misinterpret Diastasis Recti as a tear in muscle, but it's the distancing of 6-pack abs from midline (connective tissue called linea alba).
Some experts term it unnatural because there is a normal distance between these muscles that we are born with.
DRA is more evident during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of the pregnancy and in some conditions, it may persist post childbirth. During pregnancy, in order to accommodate the growing baby, the abdomen expands, resulting in the stretching of skin, muscles & connective tissues, which results in the occurrence of this phenomenon post childbirth.
Some research shows that the belly or the baby size has nothing to do with the occurrence of DRA. No one is immune from having it. DRA can occur in a person during their birth phase and is irrespective of their gender and age.
Diastasis Recti is a whole-body issue and not just an isolated abdominal issue. It’s the result of how you’ve moved your entire body throughout your life. If the condition stays post-child birth or appears without being pregnant, there are numerous ways to tackle it: By identifying imbalances in core stabilization, addressing pressure management issues, and restricting movements of hip/pelvis & shoulder, one can ease the excessive load across the abdomen.
The most common sign of Diastasis Recti is a protruding belly, also known as ‘mummy tummy’ or the ‘beer belly’. Many people also witness a lump or bulge hanging out of their mid-line under load (referred as doming or tenting) during activities like planks, pull-ups, sit-ups etc. This bulge can be present in anyone, more noticeable in people with lower fat levels, and may result in an abdomen that looks “still pregnant”.
Diastasis can happen in different locations & measurements of the same may vary. Surprisingly, many people assume that DRA is just fat on the belly, however, it doesn’t go away with general exercises or diet.
HOW TO CHECK?
You may conduct a self-test by following these steps:
Roll to your side & get over to your back. The DRA will be checked in several places and be sure to see how firm it is when pushing down in the middle.
1. In the mid-belly section (halfway between belly button & rib cage): Place fingers on this point horizontally and pick your head up. Do you feel a gap? Check width and see if your fingers feel squishy
2. Right above belly button: Place fingers on this point horizontally and pick your head up. Do you feel a gap? Check width and see how far fingers go down
3. Below belly button: Pick your head up. Do you feel a gap? Is it firm, soft or squishy?
Make notes on these to compare later. Also, it's important to understand that width & depth of diastasis are both important. Technically anything under 2 fingers wide isn’t considered a DRA but depth would still be an important consideration.
● DRA may occur if core pressure isn’t managed well, resulting in imbalance in pull from abs or pressure bulging out through midline. Thus, exaggerating separation or thinning of connective tissue
● DRA may be a common postpartum injury but men, children & nulliparous get it because of intra-abdominal forces similar to pregnancy
● Coughing, laughing, pooping, breathing, moving & birthing are all things that change the amount of pressure in the abdomen
● Increased intra-abdominal FAT pushing through connective tissue
● Poor body alignment
Whether pregnant, postpartum or non, monitoring of core function during exercises & activities of daily living will play a vital role in preventing DRA.
Exercising too hard or too soon postpartum can make DRA worse. During pregnancy, postural compensations happen to accommodate growing belly, creating imbalances between abdominals & pelvic position and back. These imbalances can result in poor posture thus contributing to DRA significantly.
● Identifying and working on faulty breathing mechanics: Work on moving muscles of the ribs - 360* expansion & contraction is the key
● Alignment matters: Maintaining ribcage stacked over pelvic position primes core muscles to work well, THROUGHOUT THE DAY
● Understanding and rectifying mobility restrictions in upper & lower body
● Working on the whole body: DRA can’t be rectified with a bunch of exercises, it’s about how you breathe, hold your body and move that determines the load on connective tissue
● Avoid moves that increase intra-abdominal pressure until managed well: Jumping, skipping, and running. These may cause bulging in linea alba or pelvic floor resulting in urine leakage issues
Fat-loss can help in decreasing intra-abdominal pressure straining your mid-section. Think about eating well for better forces by simply following these steps:
1. Ditching Soda/flavored drinks: Try to rely on only water for a few days
2. Swap simple carbs for complex carbs: Replace biscuit with daily tea with a handful of fox nuts or add fibrous carbs like oatmeal or whole wheat to diet
3. Eat protein with every meal: Proteins are satiating & can quickly fill up & helps burn more calories
4. Add an extra serving of veggies
5. Move more: Movement is the best medicine. The more you move in alignment, the greater is healing. Try to give yourself step targets & keep pushing it up weekly.
Often people view surgery as an “easy route” or “the only way of healing”. Surely it’ll repair the damaged tissue but it can’t repair the way you breathe and move. Diastasis is a whole-body issue and various components need to be addressed. Things can change & improve. Make sure you seek guidance from a pelvic floor physiotherapist or a certified professional who can work on healing your DRA by looking at the whole system.
About the author -
Ishav Lamba is a Health Coach at the online health & fitness coaching platform, MyHealthBuddy
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