Diastasis Recti of the Abdominal Muscles (D.R.A.M.)
Diastasis recti is when there is a vertical gap in the abdominal muscles of about 2 fingers’ width or greater. It is very common during or after pregnancy. The muscles are usually joined together by the linea alba which is a strong tissue made of collagen. As your tummy gets bigger in pregnancy, this can ease apart. It is more common following multiple pregnancies but can occur first time around. Causes include a high birth weight, older mothers, having twins and there is probably a genetic element to it too due to different collagen types. The most common symptom is a bulging tummy (sometimes known as a ‘Mummy tummy’) or doming, when there is a outward bulge or ridge when you are using your tummy muscles.
When we are assessing you, we will check the gap between the muscles (ie distance) but we will also assess the tension in the gap as the more tension there is the better, even with a wide gap. We will also check for doming – this is a vertical ridge appearing when you do a curl up movement. The important issue is getting the abdominal muscles strong so that they are functioning normally and avoiding exercises that are too advanced for your tummy muscles. The muscles may never totally join together but as long as you have good tummy muscles, it is rarely a problem. If you have reasonable muscle strength, rehabilitative Pilates may be an option. Rarely, abdominoplasty surgery is required.
If you want to check whether you have a separation, lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put one hand along the midline of your tummy muscles and lift your shoulders a little off the floor (as if doing a little curl up). You can use the other hand to support your head. If it is more that 2 fingers breadth, make an appointment to see Mariola or Linda for a full assessment.