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What is Diastasis Recti?

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

This is definitely the most edited portion of the postpartum guide. The reason being is that it is ever-changing. New research is constantly being released and updated which is amazing but can also make navigating DR a bit more of a puzzle.

Diastasis Recti (DR) has a prevalence rate of 33.1% at 21 weeks pregnant. 60% at 6 weeks postpartum. 45.4% at 6 months postpartum and 32.6% at 12 months postpartum.

DR is the separation of the rectus abdominis (6-pack muscles). Hormonal changes affecting the connective tissue increase the laxity of the linea alba. This along with the increased amount of pressure over a long period of time results in elongations and separation of the rectus abdominis muscle. The width of the linea alba becomes larger creating the distance between the two rectus muscles to increase. The tissues that run down the middle (linea alba) will stretch to accommodate the growing baby.

In the postpartum period, this tissue can heal and allow the 6 pack muscles to move closer (similar to a rubber band after being stretched). Sometimes this is not the case (the rubber band doesn't return to its original elasticity), though the reason is unknown there is a large genetic factor. Everyone who has DR is going to have a different experience, it is very different from individual to individual.

How is DR measured? There are several methods that are used to measure the space between the two rectus muscles. These methods include; palpation, finger width, tape measure, calipers, and ultrasound.

When using finger width, less than 2 finger width is considered non-DR, 2-3 finger width is mild DR, 3-4 width is moderate DR, and greater than 4 is severe DR. Measurements are taken 3cm above the belly button, and 2 cm below the belly button.

As a personal trainer, when a client comes to me with a DR diagnosis my first assessment is their ability to hold tension on the linea alba. Though a lot of focus is placed on the size of the gap when it comes to diagnosis, that is not my main concern. The ability to hold tension shows me that your core is able to handle the exercise, it also allows us to work the core without a distorted linea alba which is the goal when doing core exercises with a DR.


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