Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA)
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) refers to a separation wider than 2.7cm between the left and right rectus abdominis muscles. Around 80% of women develop DRA in the third trimester of pregnancy, however 50 percent continue to have this condition after childbirth.
What causes DRA?
DRA is caused by the stretching of a connective collagen sheath with excessive inner-abdominal pressure. It most frequently occurs in pregnant or postpartum women. Risk factors involving DRA include:
- Having a larger baby, twins or a large amount of amniotic fluid
- Multiple childbirths
- Being pregnant over the age of 35
- Intense pushing during childbirth
- Improper breathing during childbirth
- Weak pre-pregnancy abdominal muscles
- Overuse of abdominal muscles during the third trimester
Pregnancy and DRA
The rectus abdominis, commonly known as the six-pack muscle, has a fibrous cord and connective tissue running down the center called the linea alba. Pregnancy simultaneously stretches the abdominal muscles to accommodate the growing baby while releasing hormones to loosen the connective tissue. The combinative actions frequently weaken and separate the rectus abdominis muscles, resulting in a widening of the center cord, giving the appearance of a pooch or a “Mummy tummy”.
The rectus abdominis is a key member of the abdominal muscle team. Having a diastasis can affect healthy bodily functions and risk conditions such as:
The natural resolution for DRA is about the first eight weeks after childbirth. If symptoms persist, it is unlikely to self recover.
To treat DRA, the core must be retrained to their optimal lines of performance such that the body can regain its healthy coordination. To prevent DRA, muscles must be stabilized and strengthened early such that it will not deepen the risk of further debilitation and development of DRA.
The Core team
The transverse abdominal muscle (TVA) is the deepest abdominal layer and can be imagined as the body’s internal corset. A strong TVA pulls the rectus abdominis together and is critical to DRA recovery. Until their stretched soft tissues heal, working the other three muscles should be secondary to the TVA. As such, avoid straining these abdominal muscles as it will continue to pull the muscles apart at the center. These include actions such as:
- Heavy lifting
- Oblique and straight crunches
- Sit ups
- Leg lowering exercises
- Plank-type position
A customized strengthening routine
A treatment plan reestablishing the Core team (ie. The Diaphragm, Pelvic floor, Transverse abdominis (TVA) and Deep back muscles) is required to successfully treat DRA. Orchard Clinic employs HIFEM technology with targeted, individualized exercises to efficiently remove unhealthy substitution patterns and the induced damage of pregnancy and childbirth.
By focusing electromagnetic energy to the treatment area, High Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Therapy enables supramaximal contractions that effectively re-educate the muscles and form healthier muscle memory. At a high level of intensity and repetition that is impossible without the use of medical devices, the positively influenced tissues can safely and quickly restore the body to their lines of optimal functionality.
To enhance the depth, authenticity and sustainability of recovery, it is critical to develop body awareness and mindful movement. Every body responds to stress differently, and therefore every mommy contracts different substitution patterns (eg. Anterior vs Posterior pelvic tilt) through pregnancy. These patterns will go on to inform and differ their body’s reaction to any later core exercises. Through observation of the individual body, we offer exclusive 1-to-1 floorwork that inspires functional movements and patterns into daily life for a complete treatment.
Treat Skin & Postpartum Conditions
If DRA is compromising your quality of life, book an appointment with us to receive a thorough assessment of your condition and a treatment plan customized to treat its severity, as well as any other postpartum concerns you may have.
High intensity electromagnetic energy to treat Incontinence and Diastasis Recti.
Combining Ultrasound and Radiofrequency for skin tightening, fat reduction and body contouring.
Energetic, acoustic waves to treat cellulite, stretchmarks and skin laxity.
One-to-one exercises for muscle stretching and strengthening customised to the individual.
Orchard Clinic is a specialised centre for Postnatal and Postpartum conditions, helping clients achieve healthy and pain-free lifestyles.