Diastasis Recti | The Muscles

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the 2 parts of the rectus abdominis muscle as the collagen tissues of the Linea Alba and Linea Semiluniaris (mid-line connective tissue) are stretched and weakened.

This image shows what happens to your abdominal muscles when diastasis recti occurs.
Diastasis Recti, or Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle | Diagram / Image

Diastasis Recti occurs as a result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading, and is common in the later stages of pregnancy, particularly second or subsequent pregnancies. It happens because your core is not functioning optimally, and because your body is not aligned optimally. The result is instability and weakness of the core and a ‘pooch’ stomach or ‘mummy tummy’.

The Rectus Abdominis is 1 of 4 layers of abdominal muscles: the Transverse Abdominis (deepest muscle layer) the Interior and Exterior Obliques (next 2 layers) that form your waist, and then the Rectus Abdominis is on the outside.

When the 2 parts of the muscle separate as a result of this increased pressure, the connective mid-line is stretched and weakened as it takes all other muscular and fascial support structures along with it. This leaves the front of the abdomen unsupported and unstable.

Important: Diastasis Recti is a symptom of excessive intra abdominal pressure, the same state that creates other pelvic and abdominal problems including hernia and prolapse. DR should therefore be treated as part of an integrated program designed to restore, re-connect and then strengthen the entire core musculature, rather than be addressed in isolation (and rather than focussing only on ‘closing the gap’).

Read more on Diastasis Recti here + see our Diastasis 101 Infographic here!

A diagram is always easier to understand – so MuTu System have created  one that explains the condition of Diastasis Recti as simply but accurately as we can – I hope it helps!

Please note that the above image is owned by and copyright of MuTu System Limited and so whilst you are welcome to link to it on your blog or website, it must remain in its complete form with accreditation. To discuss use in printed, off-line or any commercial materials, please contact us. Thank-you!

  • http://fit2b.us/ Beth Learn

    This is perfect! What a great diagram!!! Thanks for all your awesome info, Wendy!

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      Thanks Beth! I was fed up searching for a good one so had our designer draw it to my spec… & of course to make it in pink ;))

  • guest

    Great diagram, but I just don’t understand how strengthening the muscles will ever tighten the connective tissue. They seem like two entirely different things.

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      The connective Linea Alba is relatively elastic – which enabled it to stretch in the first place, taking the muscles with it. But precisely because all of the core musculature is connected (not entirely different, but in fact entirely interdependent) – they are all part of the same SYSTEM of fascia & muscle. 

      Many other muscles are relevant too, in the lower spine, inner & other thigh / hip muscles, & deep postural muscles such as Psoas & Pirifirmis… all work together to either hold us stable, strong & in good alignment (with no pressure pushing our abs out & away) or the opposite: tight, weak & lacking optimal function. 

      By restoring & then strengthening all these muscles to work correctly & optimally… a strong Transverse Abdominis will draw the stomach back in flat, bringing the Rectus in & together in the process. At the same time the mid-line is tightened & strengthened. A small remaining gap is not necessarily a problem, provided the connective mid line is firm & shallow, not deep & soft.

      Have a read of the other posts to explain more, but the muscles are an interconnected SYSTEM – & that fact means that working those muscles & changing the  level of abdominal & pelvic pressure through focussed exercise & adjusted alignment, will correct the system as a whole. 

      That’s also why addressing only ‘the gap’ is only a small part of the jigsaw. The gap will narrow for the long term, only when entire core function & pelvic alignment is restored.

      • Jess

        This is all very well and good, but I was born with my DR I know this because I used to watch it blugle as I was doing sit ups at the age of 16 not over weight, two children later and weight gain at 50 I diagnosed mine and got a scan to confirm. It’s 4 finger widths wide and sits to the right of my stomach it’s so big…will mutu help this?

        • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

          Hi Jess, It’s less than you were born with the condition, so much as that ever since childhood you have learnt movement patterns that increase intra abdominal pressure. Diastasis is an pressure issue, affected + caused by your body alignment. Its not a condition that is inherent or genetic. You can always improve your alignment + this will reduce the pressure + yes it will help to narrow the gap + strengthen the midline connective tissue for improved stability + tone. Whether or not it will ‘close completely’ depends on many factors, but, yes it will improve if the program is followed, particularly with regards to all the alignment work.

  • TrishGibbs

    I also have a hernia above my belly button. Will repairing th DR also repair the hernia? What causes it ? I had one in the same spot and had surgery in February where they put a mesh on it. Now there is another one and its even bigger then the first. I have talked to a different surgeon who has suggested going up from the C-section scar, removing the mesh and the suturing the muscle together to repair the hernia with my own muscle. The surgeon I used previously wants to just put a bigger mesh. I have purchased the MuTu system but haven’t gotten very far. Is it better to wait or will it help before the surgery or instead of the surgery? ( sorry/ lots of questions!)

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      The MuTu core exercises will help you to heal & restore at ANY stage Trisha. I’m afraid I can’t comment on your individual surgical procedures but I can recommend that you follow MuTu Core & MuTu Breathe from the System & it will benefit you whatever your decision about further surgery. Please don’t do the inteensive workouts whilst you have these ongoing issues – Core & Breathe are what you need! More MuTu & hernia info here http://mutusystem.com/hernia-and-diastasis-recti-postpartum-umbilical-hernia.html

  • Sofy

    Question: So what is the program from you that I have to buy to help me with my diastesis recti? Cause I am still not understanding where in your site I can get the exercises needed to correct the problem. Many thanks.

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      Just click ‘buy online training program’ at the top there Sofy :) http://mutusystem.com/download-the-mutu-system-coaching-programme.html

  • Ashley

    Hi Wendy,
    I have several questions. Is this fully correctable with anyone, at anytime in their life? I have had four kids. After my second child I joined the army, UNAWARE of this condition, and worked out a lot. Did I damage my abs even more by doing this? Also, I have yet to be seen for my postpartum checkup for my fourth child. And, I have been anticipating working out. I actually started 2 weeks ago, until I was looking up ab workouts and came across DR. While one is healing, or even before one begins to heal their ab muscles are other exercises alright to do? If so which ones would be considered safe and which ones wouldn’t be? Or should one wait until their entire abs are fully recovered before working out?

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      Hi Ashley, yes – it doesn’t matter how long ago you had your babies – you can always improve it. Don’t think of it as waiting to get fixed & then going back to traditional ab exercises – if you work your core right you will fix it & you know how to get a strong core without ever doing crunches & other traditional ab work. This explains more http://mutusystem.com/do-i-have-to-do-core-exercises-forever-when-is-it-fixed.html

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  • Bek

    I’ve just purchased this and I can’t waaaait to start!! I had a 4 finger gap separation after my 3rd child (14 months ago) in 3.5 years and have done the Tupler Technique religiously since birth. I’ve technically closed my gap when laying down and testing but it still sits about 3 fingers apart when I’m standing because my connective tissue is still very weak and deep (I can feel all my insides when I’m laying down! Yukkk). Although it has helped me reduce the size of my gap I”ve hit a plateau and it feels like my fingers will always dip into my tummy to my knuckles. I’m very active and have lost all of my baby weight but hate when I look in the mirror and see my abs sitting out on what feels like the sides of my waist. I’ve been desperately trying to find exercises to strengthen the tissue so I reeeeeeally hope that it can help me! Thanks for giving me hope! Can’t wait to see the results after the 8 weeks!!

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      Welcome Bek!

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  • jlz

    I’ve been doing a combination of MuTu and Tupler and been wearing a splint almost religiously for 4 months. My separation seems to have halted at 3 fingers and very shallow (started at 4 fingers and quite deep). Once the diastasis is shallow what is the best way to finally bring the gap together – just keep doing what I’m doing?

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      MuTu System is a 12 Week Program, then you know how to use your core + stay strong + stable – applying to all future workouts. Are you in the customer facebook group too – there’s a tonne of ongoing support in there too :-)

  • jk111

    I have had 2 children. My youngest, now 12, was 10 lbs when she was born. I have had 2 ventral hernia operations (hernia at the belly button). I have just been told I have a diastasis proven with a ct scan. I have been told I need to have a surgical repair at this point. Will these excersizes help me?

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      The program suitable for you to complement your medical care would be Focus. By all means show it to your doctor /Physio. The program is endorsed + recommended by specialist women’s health physiotherapists

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  • miami85

    I have 2 kids, but hoping to try for a 3rd soon, should I bother with this now, or wait?

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      The sooner you start they better shape your core + pelvic floor will be in for your next pregnancy!

  • Amy Tosch Lozano

    I have two children and have had about 7 suregeries that went through my belly button and 5 of those suregeries have been for an Umbilical Hernia. This last hernia surgery I had the biological mess put in and now my stomach is bulging out bad. I have gone back to my Dr and he informed me it was due to my sever diastasis recti. He has informed me that I would need to have a tummy tuck to take care of the problem. When I say severe I can get at least 4 if not more fingers in between my muscles. It is starting to bulge out more daily. I NEED HELP!!

  • Kayla

    I had the diastasis recti bulge while I was pregnant, but it shrunk right down after birth. Now I can feel small gap between the ab muscles, the width of about half of a finger tip. I’ve been doing tva exercises and core strengthening through yoga and strength training of the rest of the body for about two months now. Is it safe for me to go back to leg raises and bicycle crunches and criss crosses etc? While I was pregnant the bulge looked like it was about 2.5-3 cm, but like I said went away pretty much immediately after birth .. Thank you! And also I love your site. It’s been so helpful!

  • Rose

    Hi Wendy
    I had 2 babies in 2 years. I got pregnant with my second just 11 weeks after giving birth to my first. my youngest is now 1 year and I still look about 5 months pregnant. I have a gap between my stomach muscles of about 1 cm, and behind my belly button it is just very slightly wider. I have read so much about Diastasis Recti and I am so confused! Is my stomach normal or are my insides trying to come out?! Do I need some sort of operation as my stomach is so big? I just don’t know if this is normal when the gap between my muscles is 1 cm.
    Thanks

  • Dani

    Hi Wendy,
    Once you get the muscles strong again and pulled back together, can they separate again if you stop the program and they weaken? Is this a program you need to do for life. My doctor is saying I need surgery for my muscles to stay together but I’m looking for other options.

    • http://mutusystem.com/ Wendy Powell

      Hi Dani, they will separate again if you stop using your core right. So its not so much that you have to do any program for ever, but rather you will start to apply correct core engagement to all movement, and that will keep your tummy where you want it. Don’t worry, it becomes less of a conscious effort as you learn!

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