Abdominal Muscle Separation

Abdominal separation refers to the separation of the long muscles of the abdomen (also known as the rectus abdominis or 'six pack').

Separation occurs as the abdominal wall adjusts to allow room for the growing baby during pregnancy and can occur any time from the first trimester. You may not notice an abdominal separation until later in your pregnancy or after delivery.

Abdominal muscle separation may also be known as Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle (DRAM). Abdominal muscle separation is a normal part of pregnancy as the abdominal wall adjusts to allow increased space for the growing uterus. If a separation is particularly large or persistent after delivery, specific exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist specialising in women's health can help in recovery and return to normal abdominal wall function. 

Why does this occur?

  • Hormonal changes of pregnancy increase the stretchiness of ligaments

  • There is an increase in the size of your abdomen due to your growing baby and muscles and connective tissues need to ‘stretch’ to make room

  • A genetic predisposition for increased stretch of the body's connective tissue and ligaments might mean you are prone to a larger or smaller separation

  • Excessive weight gain in pregnancy, twin pregnancy and subsequent births may present a higher chance of a large or persistent separation.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • A visible or palpable gap running down the centre of your abdominal wall

  • Abdominal muscles “doming” when you attempt to sit up

  • Weakness through your abdominal area or core muscles

  • Poor posture

  • Back pain

What can be done to help me?

Education about what things to avoid to ensure your DRAM doesn’t become worse.

A staged abdominal core strength program to help build up your strength in a safe way allow you to return to exercise

Provision of “suitable” abdominal support garments.

Our group fitness and pilates classes are suitable for anyone assessed as having abdominal separation as all exercises can be modified to your level.