The term diastasis refers to the result that occurs when the connective tissue is disrupted and the right and left abdominal muscles of the rectus abdominus split apart. A diastasis is diagnosed by simply watching you attempt to sit up from a lying down position. When you try to sit up the muscles will tent upward and split apart rather than pull together and downward which is normal. A diastasis is measured by describing how many fingers the examiner can fit in between the space between the muscles. One and 2 finger diastasis’ are common and can be corrected.
Imagine placing your palm flat on top of a coke can. Then try and crush it by pressing down as hard as you can. Not so easy. Now, lightly slice the can down the middle or across one side and then tape over it. Now you can imagine that it would be much easier to affect the pressure of this can and the liquid, or pressure, would go down.
This is the same affect that can occur at the trunk and pelvis as a result of damage to or weakening of the abdominal wall after surgery or trauma. Surgeries such as C-sections, hysterectomies, or gastric bypass and trauma or overstretching of the abdominal wall which occurs during pregnancy and obesity are common causes. Core strength, low back health, posture, and bowel and bladder functions are dependent on all of the muscles of the trunk, especially all 3 abdominal muscles, to function correctly. The increased downward pressure puts stress and strain on the pelvis, back, and leg muscles and nerves. Therefore, low back pain and urinary incontinence can both be minimized or eliminated by correcting a diastasis and retraining trunk muscles.
A simple way to begin to correct this muscle dysfunction is to not allow the muscles to split every time you lift your head and attempt to sit up from a lying down position. If you suspect that you have a diastasis try log rolling to sit up out of bed, instead of sitting straight up by leading with your head, until the diastasis can be corrected. Try placing your fingers on either side of your rib cage while lying down with your knees bent and feet on the floor or bed. Inhale and as you exhale push your ribs and muscles together as you gently begin to perform a sit up or abdominal crunch. Try it first by keeping your head and neck relaxed on a pillow. Only roll up half way or less in order to retrain the muscles how to recruit correctly. For those who are very weak or have large diastasis’ a sheet can be used instead of your hands. If you question that you do in fact have a diastasis talk to your physician or a specially trained therapist before participating in abdominal strengthening exercises.