By Diane Lee, FCAMPT

Diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) is very common in the obstetric patient. While most women recover both form and function of the abdominal wall in the postnatal period, persistent separation of the rectus abdominis muscles occurs in some. Rehabilitation has traditionally focused on exercise to ‘close the DRA’ and reduce the separation. New evidence shows that this philosophy is flawed. New data, and a controversial new interpretation, support exercises that widen the separation (i.e. increase the inter-recti distance) to increased tension in the linea alba and prevent its distortion, thus control the abdominal contents (cosmetic benefit) and transfer force between sides of the abdominal wall (functional benefit). These findings have the potential to cause a paradigm shift in prescription of rehabilitation for DRA.

Learn more about research Diane Lee and Paul Hodges have done in the Winter edition of the Women’s Health Division Newsletter.