Diastasis recti is the term used to describe the separation of the left and right sides of the abdominal muscles. The right and left halves of the rectus abdominus are connected by a fascial structure called the linea alba which can tear during pregnancy. Some post-partum women notice visible bulging over the middle of their abdomen or the inability to get rid of their belly.
Why does this matter?
Abdominal separation may cause or exacerbate low back pain, pelvic pain or similar conditions.
How do I check for this?
To check for this, lie on you back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Insert 2 fingers horizontally into the abdomen at the level of your belly button. Lift your head towards your chest and feel for the left and right sides of the abdominals. A clinically significant diastasis is present if you can fit 2 or more fingers between the muscle tissue with your head in this position.
What should I do about a diastasis?
If you do have a significant diastasis recti, you should avoid sit-ups and crunches as well as any other exercise that puts you in this flexed position or that causes your abdomen to bulge. Sometimes this resolves on it's own. If it is not resolving, a course of physical therapy with specific core strengthening exercises and some taping techniques can be very helpful.