Also known as abdominal separation, diastasis recti is a condition where the right and left sides of the rectus abdominus (the muscle that makes up the front wall of the abdominals, also known as the “six-pack” muscle) spread apart at the body’s midline. Diastasis negatively affects the strength of the abdominal wall and can aggravate lower back pain.
Abdominal separation occurs most often in response to the force of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall during pregnancy, but can also happen when there is an extreme over-abundance of sub-muscular (visceral) abdominal fat. In pregnancy, hormones are also partially to blame, as they can soften connective tissue, allowing the separation to occur more easily.
Risks of developing diastasis are greater in women who:
- are expecting more than one baby
- have had abdominal separation with a previous pregnancy
- are very petite
- have a pronounced sway back or poor abdominal muscle tone