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What Is Diastasis Recti & How Is It Diagnosed?

What is diastasis recti & how is it diagnosed?

From day one of pregnancy the female body begins to make required changes to grow and nourish a baby. One of these changes is diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (AKA the six-pack muscles) as a result of pregnancy. Pregnancy causes diastasis recti because of the expansion of the uterus required to house the baby. All women experience some level of diastasis recti during the third trimester or immediately postpartum.

How does it impact women’s daily lives?

Diastasis can make daily tasks more difficult due to abdominal weakness. It can also cause:

  • Distended abdomen
  • Pelvic floor weakness
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Bloating
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation

What are the risk factors for diastasis recti severity?

The severity of separation which occurs depends on factors such as genetics, activity levels prepartum and time between pregnancies. The time between pregnancies can increase the severity of diastasis recti if muscles and connecting tissue have not had sufficient time to heal post-pregnancy. The amount of separation does not equal to the severity of the condition. Women can have little separation but experience more symptoms associated with diastasis recti and similarly women who have large separation can have no issues with diastasis recti.  

Can people recover naturally?

All pregnancies and diastasis recti events are different, so recovery is highly variable. Some women naturally recover well from diastasis recti postpartum.  However, many women still have symptoms over one year postpartum and find that their abdominal muscles do not function properly. In certain cases surgery can be recommended to treat diastasis recti, however, appropriate individualised rehabilitation from an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP) can provide a less invasive pathway to recovery in many cases. It should be noted that diastasis recti is a completely normal part of pregnancy and post-partum recovery but that some individuals will require additional support in their recovery. 

How is diastasis recti diagnosed?

An AEP or pelvic physiotherapist assesses for diastasis recti using a simple technique that can be attempted at home. An individual should follow these steps:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees, keeping your feet on the floor. 
  2. Place two or three fingers horizontally across your belly button and slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor. 
  3. If you observe your abdominal muscles separate in this movement, this is evidence of diastasis recti. 

A health professional will also measure how many centimetres of separation are present. 

How can an exercise physiologist help with diastasis recti? 

AEP’s assist with various conditions related to pregnancy and postpartum including diastasis recti. An AEP will work with you to create a targeted exercise program that is safe for both you and your baby. Every woman and every pregnancy is different so it is important exercise is structured around your personal goals and the stage you are currently in with your pregnancy. 

Using exercise as treatment of diastasis recti can begin early in pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy and decreasing sedentary time leads to improved health outcomes for both the mother and the baby. Research shows that regular exercise to activate deep core stabilising muscles reduces diastasis recti during pregnancy and improves the ease of treatment of diastasis recti postpartum.  This has the co-benefit of improving mental health and quality of life postpartum. 

Exercise during recovery from diastasis recti should be progressive, starting with simple exercises and gradually increasing movement as recovery progresses. Early exercises may include breathing exercises that incorporate the diaphragm like those done in mediation and yoga. These exercises can begin shortly after birth. Progressively incorporating movements with breathing such as toe touches from tabletop position and glute bridges are beneficial too. These types of exercises are done in Pilates and reformer Pilates. An AEP can continue to work with you postpartum to assist you to treat your diastasis recti and safely return to exercises you enjoyed before pregnancy such as running, high-intensity training or lifting heavy weights. They can also work with you to help you safely perform everyday tasks that may be made more difficult due to diastasis recti such as walking upstairs, lifting your baby from the floor, or putting your baby in the car.

Can compression garments help with diastasis recti?

Compression tights are great for supporting muscle recovery from diastasis recti. Wearing compression tights is recommended during the first eight weeks post-partum to assist with the treatment of diastasis recti. Different types of compression tights can be worn for different stages of pregnancy and postpartum. SRC Health has a variety of compression garments that can be worn during pregnancy and postpartum. They are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, come in different lengths and colours and can be found here:

 https://srchealth.com/collections/all

Find out more about how an exercise physiologist can work with you at the different stages of your pregnancy, get in touch with the team here.

Meet the team

Be Physiology

At Be Physiology we focus on exercise and movement for the management and improvement of neurological and chronic conditions.

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Trent Brock | Mobile Exercise Physiologist

Trent Brock

mobile exercise physiologist
I have had 3 major passions throughout my life; exercise, competitive sports, and a strong will to help others. Those 3 factors made it an easy decision to pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. By encouraging and facilitating evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, I can help individuals living with various chronic conditions, particularly those living with neurological conditions.
I see exercise physiology as an extremely beneficial practice that enables clients to experience an improved quality of life. Personally, being able to provide insight into exercise and other tools that can equip clients with helpful skills and wellbeing improvements is extremely fulfilling. Being able to improve not only an individual, but their support network’s day-to-day life fills me with great joy and motivates me to continue to be better so that I can do better. I understand that everyone has a different view of exercise and there is no one-size fits all approach, so I operate with an open and adaptive mind, supported by evidence-based practices. If you or anyone that you know is looking to improve their quality of life and begin a journey to improved living, or just have any general questions, get in touch and let's have a chat!
Michelle Marais AEP

Michelle Marais

mobile exercise physiologist
My passion for movement, health, and helping others led me to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Through this role, I facilitate exercise-based rehabilitation for individuals with various chronic conditions, with a primary interest and area of expertise in neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is about equipping clients with valuable skills that make daily tasks easier and empowering them to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.I take great pride in being a part of my clients' rehabilitation journey and exploring new methods with them to find the optimal exercise approach that works best for them.If you have any questions or are interested in starting your journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me.
Angus Sullivan AEP

Angus Sullivan AEP

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
As an accredited exercise physiologist, I see my role as an opportunity to facilitate a safe and effective environment for my clients to explore their physical capabilities, identify areas where they would like to improve, and then prescribe meaningful and appropriate activities to achieve these improvements.
I currently work predominantly with individuals living with disability and have a keen interest in acquired brain injuries (ABI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and rare neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is not only about achieving narrow objective goals (eg. 1 Rep Max bench press), but improving an individual’s lifestyle and making activities of daily living easier (mobilising, transferring, feeding, and more).
I love what I do and enjoy learning new methods and discussing different opinions about exercise. I am always happy to chat about it so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share!
Our team of mobile exercise physiologists

Walter White

manager of good vibes
Being active has taken on a whole new meaning and I am 100% here for it. I like to fink I'm pretty active, and I keep up de vibes during team meetings - just making sure everyone's hands are always moving (across my butt) because I know dat any exercise is good exercise.
I keep close to everyone, real close, just to keep dem on their toes when dey walk by too.
Fings are always better when I am der so if you need some good vibes, I will be der for you.
Brb just going to have a snooze.
Love and licks,
Wally
Brittney Kenward

Brittney Kenward

co-founder / Operations manager
I’m NOT an exercise physiologist, but I do take my hat off to my team and get to admire the work they do each and every day. Be Physiology means that we’re able to apply our passion, and our experience, to make exercise physiology more accessible to the people who need it the most.
You might hear the team describe me as ‘the person who does everything else’, and that can be translated to ‘marketing and operations'. My background is marketing and business, which I’ve lived and breathed since 2011. I’ve worked in both the agency and corporate spaces, across many industries, with many amazing people and now with Be Physiology, I get to explore the health industry further and continue to meet the most incredible people who are the ones to define motivation.
If you’ve met Harry and Aj, you’d know that they don’t really need marketing - they’re genuine, have ridiculous amounts of charisma, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about helping people to be a better version of themselves. But, sometimes getting an introduction is the hardest part and that’s where I come in.
If you want to chat, a coffee, a laugh, I’m always here to make one or all of them happen.

So call me and let’s keep sharing the love!
Keegan Betts AEP

Keegan Betts AEP

mobile exercise physiologist
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, my work is driven by my passion for movement, health, and empowering others. With my experience working with individuals of all ages who have neurological conditions such as autism, stroke, and cerebral palsy, I focus on delivering activity-based therapy to optimise their independence.
Seeing people empowered and handling daily tasks easier is incredibly rewarding, as well as being able to give others the tools to improve their mental health and prevent secondary health conditions.
I know the importance of creating a welcoming and safe environment particularly when improving our health and I always strive to ensure everybody feels supported by the team around them and receives the highest level of care.
Get in touch today and let's make it happen.
Kristen McCluskey

Kristen McCluskey

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
If you spend as little as 10 minutes a day exercising, it will still make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health - this is a fact and it is very often underappreciated! The benefits of exercise don’t discriminate and the rumours are true, exercise is medicine.
Spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions and women’s health are areas I find to be very dynamic and that I am particularly passionate about, but all aspects of exercise physiology are unique and have a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and I want to continue bringing it to those who will benefit the most from it.
I'm passionate about learning new methods and learning what my clients enjoy and how they approach exercise. I am always happy to chat about the many benefits and outcomes of exercise physiology so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share.
If you’re interested in learning more about who I am or want to ask any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .
Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

marketing assistant
My name is Charlotte, and I'm a sports enthusiast currently studying for a marketing degree. Although I am not an exercise physiologist, I have a passion for sports having a background in ski instructing and adaptive skiing. Like the team, I believe exercise is medicine and share a similar passion and values to help and motivate others I meet.
I've been fortunate enough to work globally with a background in event management, ski instructing, administrating, and climbing supervisor. However, working alongside the Be Physiology team as my dream role in marketing is a highlight. If you have had the pleasure of meeting the team, you will know their genuine, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate to help others. These are values that I also pride myself in, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues.
Harry White AEP

Harry White AEP

co-founder / supervisor
Exercise physiology combines two of my favourite things: health and helping people. As an accredited exercise physiologist with more than seven years’ clinical experience, I have treated people presenting with a wide variety of health conditions and concerns, postural issues, chronic injuries and rehabilitation needs.
My expertise is spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders and helping my clients to achieve an improved quality of life through rehabilitation and functional training. Rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders can be slow but incredibly rewarding for clients when results are achieved, no matter how small. Assisting people through learning useful skills and functional training is the most important role that an EP can play to help people lead a more fulfilled life.
Working for many years with people who have suffered serious injury or live with a disability, I know that taking a proactive approach to your health changes your life. If you care for your body, it will take care of you.
I’m passionate about helping people live a long, healthy and active life, so call today.