Diastasis Rectus Abdominis: Filling the Gap Part 1


Part 1 What and Why of Diastasis Recti

As I search the Internet and question colleagues, hungry for more information, what I actually learn is that we have a problem. The problem is the large gap; both figuratively and literally speaking. The gap in our postpartum healthcare is directly related to the gap in your abdomen. 

It is beyond frustrating to see the misinformation marketed to new moms: “lose that mommy pouch” or “get your belly bikini ready” and “simple steps to a six pack.” (Unfortunately, “move well and quit screwing shit up” doesn’t sell as well.)

What is even more frustrating is many of the trusted resources, even the “experts” in the field, are still missing the boat. The consequences remain: misinformation and what I consider an epidemic of dysfunction.

I am sure by now you have heard the term Diastasis Recti or Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA). For the sake of this post series I am going to refer to women. Just don’t forget, men have a core (and pelvic floor) too.

In my time as a chiropractor, doula, BIRTHFIT affiliate, coach, and mother of four I see firsthand the many issues that lead to and come from core dysfunction. It is time we start looking at the system as a whole and healing it that way.  I am thankful for having studied Janda, Lewitt, and Kolar’s work. Their work has paved the way for an in depth understanding of how our bodies were born to move.

Within these innate movement patterns lies our answer.

I hope to help you understand this as simply as it actually is. Think about this for a minute: when is the last time you witnessed a baby doing a sit-up? How about “zipping” in his or her transversus abdominis? Nope. Me either. Want another fun fact? Babies are BORN with diastasis. Yes, that’s right. YOU were born with a diastasis and immature movement patterns. Guess what else? Babies heal that diastasis on their own through functional movement patterns. By four and a half months the diastasis should approximate or come together. This is also around the time that baby starts to roll to both sides. Not a coincidence. 

Big Mac DRA

No one teaches baby to roll or sit up on his or her own or crawl or squat or walk. We should not be putting them in these positions before this occurs naturally (Stop Interfering with Your Child’s Development). All of these movements are formed as neurological stimulation occurs in the environment. That simply means that baby’s brain is intrigued and wants to learn more about surroundings, hence baby is motivated to movies the most instinctive, natural way. Again, movement is life.

Why then, are we still attempting to look for treatment of DRA and core dysfunction by singling out muscle groups? We are not made to function that way, so hoping to return to full function by rehabbing or training that way is setting ourselves up for failure in the form of continuous injuries or dysfunction.

DRA does not have to occur. It is a separation in the rectus abdominus muscle due to immature movement patterns. Basically, this happens when movement reverts back to that of a newborn infant and can happen for a number of reasons. The simplicity of this concept is actually great news. If we return to what our bodies were born to do, we fix the problem at its roots and avoid simply making the surface look better.

The Functional Progression that I pieced together is not new. It is simply taking the work that I have studied into a fluid movement pattern that is more functional than a Turkish Get-up. The progression addresses the entire core and allows for resistance or weight to be added as normal movement patterns are solidified.  

Dysfunction of the core and pelvic floor is much more than DRA and is so common that even upon questioning patients, it is often not mentioned. As founder of BIRTHFIT, Lindsey Mathews states, common does not always mean normal. Peeing in your pants when you are 50 (or younger) because you are “getting older and have had children” is NOT a rite of passage. Yes, it is common. No, it is not normal. And until we start filling our gaps, women will continue to suffer from these issues.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

-Dr. Erica Boland, DC



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4 comments to " Diastasis Rectus Abdominis: Filling the Gap Part 1 "
  • I love this. I have had so many “experts” tell me I need to stop crossfitting and focus on fixing my diastasis the “proper” way as I was going to seriously injure myself. I just kept crossfitting, and avoided movements like Ghd situps and regular situps etc until I felt my core was strong enough to handle them. With that said, I can deadlift over 300lbs and snatch 190# and placed 6th at regionals this year. (I am 17 months postpartum and have just under 3 year old twins so my ab separation was bad!)
    My core has never been stronger, and that is due to CrossFit. I have been somewhat nervous to share this with people because I know I’ll get a ton of negative opinions from “experts” and I’m certainly not an expert so I didn’t want to put the wrong information out there for People. But I will say, functional movement is what has helped my core go from looking like I’m a few months pregnant to being strong as heck. I definitely don’t worry about people asking if I am pregnant anymore and I wasn’t sure if that would ever be the case. Can’t wait to read more by you guys! Thank you!

  • Ashley

    I’m excited to read more. I am three years postpartum and still have a bit of a gap. I’ve tried various programs and nothing has really helped. I love lifting weights – I lifted throughout my pregnancy and continue to lift weights, but sometimes I can’t help but feel confused by all the information out there. My stomach looks fine – I don’t look pregnant – but my belly button still sticks out! Sometimes it all makes me feel crazy. I’ll be curious to read more. :)

  • […] progressions (part 1, 2, 3, and 4) that mimic a child’s first year of development (during which babies heal their own […]

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