By Adelaide Women's Physio | November 30, 2015

Abdominal separation is a common occurrence where the long muscles of the abdomen stretch apart in the middle.  This is often called Rectus Abdominus Diastasis(RAD) or Diastasis Recti.

Why have my abdominal muscles separated?

Separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy is common (up to 2 out of 3 pregnant women have this condition). There are often multiple reasons why the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy including

  • hormonal changes that soften the connective tissue between your stomach muscles
  • weight gain during pregnancy
  • stretching of the abdominal muscles as the baby grows
  • genetic predispositions
  • size of baby and the way you ‘carry’ your baby during pregnancy
  • multiple pregnancies and each subsequent pregnancy
  • difficult birth with a long pushing stage

How do I know if my abdominal muscles have separated?

The first thing you may notice is a doming of your abdominal muscles in the middle, especially as you lie down.  You can also do a brief test where you lie on your back with your knees bent up.  Next lift your head and shoulders up off the floor, feeling down your central tummy line and see if you can feel a gap in the muscles.

Is an abdominal muscle separation a problem?

If the muscles remain stretched and separated there is less support for your back.  This may increase the chances of back injury and pain.  Other problems that may be associated with abdominal separation are poor exercise tolerance, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic girdle pain and hernia.

What treatment could help my abdominal muscle separation recover?

  • Specific exercises taught to you by a physiotherapist
  • Avoiding aggravating activities such as sit ups, heavy lifting, strong abdominal work and high intensity activities
  • Individualised Pilates program
  • Recovery SRC shorts