What is Abdominal Separation? AND... Do you have it?
What is Abdominal Separation?
The six-pack muscle (Rectus Abdominis) runs from your breast bone to your pubic bone and is joined together with a strong fibrous sheath called the Linea Alba.
In Latin, Rectus means “straight” and Abdominis means “abdominals”.
“Linea” is referred to as “line” and “Alba” means “white” ie white line.
In some pregnancies, the Linea Alba becomes a little darker in colour and is visible on your stomach.
This is called Linea Negra which simply means “dark line”.
You may have heard people talk about your abdominal muscles “splitting”.
Your muscles don’t actually “split”, because they’re already in a separated state, as they’re held together by the Linea Alba which I mentioned above.
A split muscle is like a torn muscle, so if you’ve ever torn your hamstring, for example, you’ll know what this pain is like, and that’s why I avoid using that term myself.
What happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy is completely painless - you aren’t aware of it, and I like to refer to it simply as abdominal “separation”.
The Rectus Abdominis stretches vertically (up and down your stomach) to accommodate baby bump at your front, and when it can’t stretch any further up and down, it then starts to separate horizontally (from left to right).
So in effect, it’s the left and right sides of your six pack muscle that have separated from one another.
I guess it’s a little bit like the Linea Alba is heavy duty cling film stretching apart.
The muscles don’t separate in every pregnancy. It depends on a number of factors.
How to Test Yourself For Abdominal Separation
The test is often called the ‘Rec Check’, because it’s the Rectus Abdominus muscle (aka the six-pack muscle) that gets affected during abdominal separation.
You need to be lying on your back to do the ‘Rec Check’.....but, before you jump down there, here’s the sequence I’d like you to follow to step down onto the floor safely:
Step down onto one knee
Place the other knee down, followed by both hands
Turn onto your side
The walk yourself down sideways
Then, keeping your knees together, roll over onto your back
SET UP POSITION FOR THE ‘REC CHECK’
Legs are bent
Feet on the floor
Feet and knees are hip-width apart
Roll up to do mini 'sit up' but keep base of shoulders on ground
Palpate tummy area from sternum to pubic bone as you are up in the crunch. To avoid strain and pressure you may want to check in 3 parts- holding for no more than a few seconds at each
FINGER TIPS AT THE READY...
Diastasis recti is measured in finger-widths, so you’ll need to place two fingers on your abdominals.
Start with two finger tips below sternum and palpate to belly button- stop lie down
Crunch again to check at your belly button, and then again to work down down towards your pelvis.
ACTION FOR THE ‘REC CHECK’ TEST
With your body and fingers at the ready, we’re good to go.
You’ll need to do a little ‘sit-up’ and breathe out as you dig your fingertips down into your tummy.
Wiggle them from left to right slightly, and see if you can ‘feel’ the muscles ‘grab’ the sides of your fingers ever so slightly.
Repeat above and below your belly button to get an accurate test.
We measure depth as well as width.
If you find you can fit more than 2 finger widths in this gap here, then you may like to ask me to check your abdominals the next time you’re in class to make sure. It can be fixed, DM me for details how