Over the last few weeks we have been presented with back pain patients suffering from a condition called diastasis recti. Diastasis means separation. Recti refers to the abdominal muscles. So this condition quite literally means abdominal muscle separation. In recent times it’s become more evident in office workers and manual labourers as well during and post pregnancy. It effects men, women and children.
Your abdominal muscles reside on either side of your midline and are connected by a tissue known as linea alba and forces can cause these muscles to spread apart the connective tissue.
The diastasis bulge appears anywhere along the middle of your abdominal muscles. The bulge will be very distinct- it will look like a small loaf of bread protruding from between your abs. You can see and feel it! Your belly as a whole may stick out too. The loaf will protrude further when you strain or lift your shoulders off the floor if laying on your back. Performing the sit up/loaf test is a good way of determining if you have the condition. Whilst lying on your back, with knees bent, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. As you do this feel and look down onto your belly. This may well result in a bulge appearing along the vertical line between your tummy muscles that resembles a small loaf of bread that suddenly pops up.
When do we see such a condition? Pregnancy is a common cause of ab separation due to stress on the abdomen. However other forces or actions can create pressure within the abdominal cavity may also be to blame. Sitting for long periods of time is one example. Your abdominal muscles and connective tissue support the back and organs. When they are separated and thinned, your abdominal wall is weakened reducing back support. THE RESULT IS OFTEN BACK PAIN.
Having diastasis recti doesn’t mean you are unfit. The flip side of this condition is that you could be incredibly fit and active and activities such as abdominal exercise and weightlifting could result in exactly the same condition. Sometimes it’s simply age. Sometimes it’s simply genetics.
So what can you do to reduce the symptoms?
Prevention is always the best medicine. There are exercises you can do that will offer support for your back and reduce the symptoms. Our next post will take a look at how to test yourself for the condition and we will also look at the exercises to do and the exercises to avoid.
We are always available to talk. Message us if you have any questions about this condition
Jason and the team @The Flying Physios