In part 1 of my diastasis series last week I talked all about what diastasis recti is. If you missed it, you can read that here. Now that we know what it is, I want to dive into the different aspects of diastasis recti and see if we can explore them without fear. The most questions I receive, by far, are about “the gap” and how to close it. The gap is the measurement between the abdominals. There is so much more to diastasis recti then just how far apart the abs might be. So, today for part 2 I am going to be digging into the gap, the linea alba, tension, and functionality.
If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Kerri Grace. I am a CrossFit Level 2 Coach and a Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach. You can read more about me, and what I do in some previous posts starting here.
When we talk about gapin relation to diastasis recti we are referring to the measurement between the abdominals. Measurements at the belly button, about 3 finger widths above and below the belly button (3 total areas) should be taken in the following ways:
- Lying down at rest
- During an active head lift (shoulders remain on floor)
- During an active head lift (shoulders remain on floor) using strategy (breath, pelvic floor lift)
Girls Gone Strong has a great video about assessing diastasis recti which you can find here. You could apply the process they use there on yourself.
A common way to measure is by using your fingers (ex. I have a 4 finger gap, I have a 10 finger gap, etc…). It is important, however, to actually measure the width of your fingers because all of our hands are different! The width of my fingers as a 5’1” female areVERY different from those of my 6’4” male husband.
A measurement of less than 2cm is considered to be within “normal” range and is not considered to be diastasis recti. During pregnancy and postpartum a diastasis can range anywhere from 2cm up to 12cm or more.
The Linea Alba and Tension
The linea alba is the line of connective tissue between the rectus abdominis(abs). Check out the illustration below for a visual. What is important about the linea alba? The linea alba can give us a lot of information when it comes to diastasis recti. We want to feel how the fascia responds during our measurement of the gap.
- What does it feel like – is it squishy, soft, hard, springy like a trampoline, does that feeling change at rest vs. during an active head lift?
- What does it do during an active crunch and other movements – does it cone, bulge, or dome? (Next week I will be going into all things coningso stay tuned!)
- This will give us an idea as to how much tension the linea alba is able to create.
Functionality and The Gap
When we start to talk about diastasis and functionality, it gets super interesting. There is no proven correlation (that I know of at the time of this blog) between the measurement of the gap and how functional a person is. Speaking from personal experience, my diastasis was about 3-4 of my fingers at its widest but I was experiencing a lot of difficulty with movement and pain down the linea alba. I have colleagues and clients that have and/or had a much wider diastasis and they never experienced that pain or difficulty with movement.
Let me ask you…What is your ultimate goal? Have your abs back together or getting back to functionality: movements and exercises, not having pain if you are experiencing that. There is no wrong answer here. I just want to spark some thought and absolutely would love to hear from you to chat.
- The gap is not the most important piece of information. We need to look at both the distance AND the density/functionality of the fascia in between.
- Many people, including men, have a separation of the abdominals without ever having been pregnant. Not everyone starts with their abs completely together.
- Anything measuring 2cm or less is considered within “normal” range but you can also have a “functioning diastasis” that may exceed the “normal” range but the tissue can sustain tension and control for functionality.
- Having a gap does not mean that you cannot do certain movements or will be able to. There is no correlation (yet – that I know of) between the size of the gap and functionality.
- It’s ok if the gap does not come together completely, the fascia and muscle integrity below the gap is more of an indicator of strength and ability to withstand intra-abdominal pressure.
I would love to hear your takeaways! Drop me a comment below Next week I will be digging into all things coning…stay tuned!
I am available to work with you remotely online or in person in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts. For more information about me and how I can help you through this chapter, please schedule a FREE 15-minute chat here, contact me directly at kerri@gracefitnessandnutrition or visit Grace Fitness and Nutrition.
Stay strong, stay beautiful!
[I am a fitness professional that specializes in pregnancy, postpartum, and the pelvic floor. But, I am not a medical professional and am not providing medical advice. I am providing basic information and can help direct you to a pelvic floor medical professional in your area if you need one.]