Diastasis Recti: What It Is and How Postnatal Physiotherapy Can Help

diastasis recti

Diastasis recti is a common condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy or childbirth.

This condition can cause discomfort, pain, and a noticeable bulge in the abdomen. Fortunately, postnatal physiotherapy can help address this issue and promote healing. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for diastasis recti and how postnatal physiotherapy can help women recover from this condition.

What is Diastasis Recti?

It is a condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy or childbirth. The rectus abdominis muscle runs vertically along the front of the stomach and is divided into left and right sides by a band of tissue called the linea alba. During pregnancy, the uterus expands and stretches the abdominals, causing the linea alba to thin and pull apart. Once the baby is delivered, the linea alba can heal and come back together. However, if the tissue loses its elasticity from being overstretched, the gap in the abdominals will not close as much as it should, resulting in diastasis recti.

What Causes Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is caused by the pressure on the abdominal wall during pregnancy. The abdomen is made up of left and right ab muscles and a thin band of connective tissue (linea alba) in between. They are pushed outward and stretched to make room for the growing baby. This occurs when the linea alba is overstretched and doesn’t come back together. The left and right sides of the abdominals stay separated.

Who is at Risk for Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is most common in pregnant and postpartum women, but it can also occur in men and infants. It usually develops in the third trimester when there is increased pressure on the abdominal wall because the baby is growing quickly during this time. Most people don’t notice diastasis recti until the postpartum period. Factors that may increase the risk of developing this condition include:

  • Multiple pregnancies

  • Large babies

  • Advanced maternal age

  • Obesity

  • Poor posture

  • Chronic coughing or sneezing

Symptoms of Diastasis Recti

The most common symptom of diastasis recti is a noticeable bulge or protrusion in the abdomen that can be seen when you sit up or strain. This bulge may be more noticeable when you are pregnant or after giving birth. Other symptoms may include:

  • Lower back pain

  • Pelvic pain

  • Difficulty lifting objects

  • Digestive issues

  • Weakness in the abdominal muscles

Diagnosis of Diastasis Recti

The condition is usually diagnosed by a physical exam. Your physiotherapist will examine your abdomen and measure the distance between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. If the gap is more than 2 finger-widths, you may have diastasis recti. Your physiotherapist may also ask you to perform certain exercises to assess the strength of your abdominal muscles.

Treatment for Diastasis Recti

Postnatal physiotherapy is a safe and effective treatment option for diastasis recti. Your physiotherapist will create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. Treatment options may include:

1. Exercise and Rehabilitation

Exercise and rehabilitation are the cornerstone of postnatal physiotherapy for diastasis recti. Your physiotherapist will design an exercise program that targets the abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and supporting muscles that help stabilize the spine and pelvis. Strengthening exercises may include:

  • Clinical Pilates

  • Pelvic tilts

  • Kegels

  • Transverse abdominis activation

  • Pelvic floor muscle training

  • Diaphragmatic breathing

2. Manual Therapy

Manual therapy techniques, such as massage, myofascial release, and joint mobilization, can help relieve pain and improve range of motion in the affected muscles and joints. Your physiotherapist may also use ultrasound or electrical stimulation to promote healing and reduce inflammation.

3. Lifestyle Modifications

Your physiotherapist may recommend certain lifestyle modifications to help prevent further damage to the abdominal muscles. These may include:

  • Avoiding heavy lifting

  • Maintaining good posture

  • Using proper body mechanics during daily activities

  • Wearing a supportive garment


In severe cases of diastasis recti, surgery may be necessary to repair the separated muscles. However, surgery is usually only recommended if non-surgical treatments have failed.

How Core Fitness Can Help

At Core Fitness, we understand the challenges that come with postnatal recovery. Our team of experienced physiotherapists specialises in postnatal physiotherapy and can help women recover from diastasis recti and other postnatal issues. We offer personalised treatment plans that are tailored to your specific needs and goals. Our compassionate and supportive approach ensures that you feel comfortable and confident throughout your recovery journey. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.


Diastasis recti is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain for postnatal women. However, with the help of postnatal physiotherapy, women can recover from this condition and improve their quality of life. The team at Core Fitness is dedicated to helping women recover from diastasis recti and other postnatal issues. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your postnatal recovery goals.

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