What to do if you have a separation of the abdominal wall? | Possums for Mothers and Babies

What to do if you have a separation of the abdominal wall?

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Louise O’Connor - Physiotherapist

A separation of the abdominal muscles, called a diastasis, impacts the functioning of the pelvis, spine and hips, and therefore also how you bend. Wearing garments to compress the abdominal wall is useful however there is more that can be done to protect this area from separating further, and in many cases reducing the degree of separation (although not completely, if there has been a tear of the connective tissue it will remain). Ensuring good alignment, mobility and function of the ribcage and its muscles, together with addressing any issues of too little or too much mobility of the pelvis, will go a long way towards better abdominal muscle function.

Pregnancy and birthing are in themselves marathon physical experiences, and some would say the real gruelling physical event starts after the birth, and is ongoing, with no culmination or closure for a couple of years, and longer if a subsequent pregnancy follows in that time. The physical demands of caring for a newborn though to the toddler phase require endless bending and carrying. Bending and lifting are activities that really test the capacities of the pelvis and abdominal wall to stabilise the spine. Problems arise when any of  the joints of the pelvis are either too loose, or indeed lack movement ,thus preventing the hips from working together in a symmetrical way. Separation of the abdominal wall in the midline does effect the diagonal muscles that work form one shoulder to the other hip. Once there is asymmetry in the function of the hips repetitive bending becomes problematic and will inevitably lead to some imbalance or overload in the body system somewhere.

Assessment by a physiotherapist to establish what degree of separation you have and what you can do from a rehabilitative perspective to improve your situation so the demands of life are matched by your physical capacities to do them without strain on your body. 

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