Diastasis Recti: Mummy Tummy Rehab

posted by Rachel Hoffman and Sarah Goodchild on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Have you recently had a baby and wondered if your baby bulge was ever going to disappear? Typically, the answer is “yes,” with time, good nutrition, a little exercise and a lot of patience. Yet sometimes your bulging tummy could be a result of diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA).  As physical therapists and new moms, we understand how frustrating the “mummy tummy” can be and we can help.

What is it?

Diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) occurs when the 2 sides of the abdominal muscle separate. This is most common following pregnancy due to the stretching of the abdominal wall as the uterus expands. In addition to this, other conditions can worsen or contribute to this separation including bearing down with strenuous activity or consistently poor, rounded postures with parenting and caring for children.

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment as well as prevention of diastasis rectus abdominis. Because the abdominal muscles support the back and other organs, a DRA can cause pain and a bulging tummy with an increased hernia risk. This can contribute to digestive track issues, menstrual cycle issues, prostate issues and pelvic floor problems in women as well as men. Women with a history of multiple pregnancies are at a higher risk and increased age.

How to check for it?

Your family practice physician can diagnose DRA during one of your follow-up visits. However, if you’d like to try a self-check, here are the steps to follow:

  • Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and relax your whole body.
  • Place your fingers about 3 inches above your belly button.
  • Slowly lift your head while you press your fingers down with your fingertips.
  • If you feel a gap more than 1.5 finger widths, then you most likely have a diastasis.
  • Also check right at your belly button and 3 inches below your belly button.

How to fix it?

Physical therapy can be very beneficial with this condition utilizing exercises for strengthening and stretching, hands on techniques and sometimes taping techniques. With treatment, the separation can actually grow back together over time. If you are post-partum or experiencing low back pain, try the test. If you find a gap, we recommend you contact a physical therapist for care and suggest you call us. Both of us are specifically trained in women’s health and would be delighted to assist you. Also, if you’re experiencing other women’s health issues, including incontinence, pelvic pain and lower back pain, call us. Women may encounter these issues during pregnancy, post-pregnancy or at other times in their lives.

Contact us:

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, and you would like to discuss a physician referral or schedule an appointment, please call (712) 264-8300 extension 6189. In addition to being Doctors of Physical Therapy, we’re also moms and can relate to your health concerns.

  1. rehab
  2. women's health

About The Author

Rachel Hoffman and Sarah Goodchild

Rachel and Sarah are Physical Therapists at the Spencer Hospital. Rachel has worked here since 2014 and Sarah since 2010. Rachel received her Bachelor’s degree from Drake University and Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the University of Iowa. Sarah received her Bachelor’s degree f ... read more