RADs Assessment Bondi Junction Sydney

Rectus Abdominis Diastasis (RAD) commonly known as abdominal separation is when the outer layer of the abdominal muscles separate through the center of the abdominal wall. This is most commonly seen during and after pregnancy, however it can be present in other populations including men and athletes.

RAD is generally not painful, however it can lead to back pain if the stomach muscles have weakened and are not supporting the trunk adequately. Usually people become aware of having an RAD when they sit up or get up from the floor and notice a doming through the middle of their tummy. Sometimes however, people are not aware of it and it can go undiagnosed for a long time.

There are several important measures when checking for RAD. These include:

1. Width of the RAD

  • The measurement of separation between the left and right rectus abdominis muscles
  • This is also known as the inter-recti distance (IRD)

2. Length of the RAD

  • The distance along the midline above and below the belly button

3. Depth of the RAD

  • This indicates the quality of the connective tissue (linea alba) you have available to transmit force across the abdomen

4. Linea alba integrity and tension

  • The linea alba is the connective tissue which connects the rectus muscles in the midline. It is a very important structure which transmits force across the abdomen while maintaining optimal intra-abdominal pressure
  • The linea alba widens and softens during pregnancy to allow for the growing size of the pregnant belly however sometimes after birth, the linea alba remains widened which reveals the “gap” or separation between the abdominal muscles.

5. Transverse Abdominis activation

  • The transverse abdominis is the deepest layer of the abdominal wall and represents the front of your “core” canister.
  • The transverse abdominis creates tension across the linea alba allowing for optimal loading through the tummy muscles
  • This is checked on real time ultrasound to ensure correct activation patterning
  • The pelvic floor is closely linked with transverse abdominis and can be checked on ultrasound at the same time as we assess your abdominal muscles. It is not unusual to have incontinence and RAD occur together and therefore it is important to investigate both the pelvic floor and abdominals in the post-partum period.

Following a thorough examination an exercise program can be devised which will help to strengthen the abdominal wall safely and effectively. Sometimes an abdominal binder or compression shorts can assist in recovery and will be prescribed.

A great exercise to start with is this:

1. Preparatory

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width apart. Hold a theraband up with your hands in line with your shoulders
  2. Inhale to prepare

2. BASIC EXERCISE:

  1. Exhale, gently contract your transverse abdominis, and lift your right knee to 90 degrees (in line with your hips)
  2. Inhale and lower down the foot to the floor
  3. Exhale, gently contract your transverse abdominis, and lift your left knee to 90 degrees
  4. Inhale and lower the foot to the floor

3. ADDING IN THE ARMS:

  1. Exhale, gently contract your transverse abdominis, lift your right knee to 90 degrees AND pull the theraband apart in line with your chest
  2. Inhale and lower down the foot to the floor, return the theraband to shoulder width apart
  3. Exhale, gently contract your transverse abdominis, lift your left knee to 90 degrees AND pull the theraband apart in line with your chest
  4. Inhale and lower down the foot to the floor, return the theraband to shoulder width apart

This series can be repeated 20-30 times and can be repeated daily. As with all exercises, it is best to attend a physiotherapy consultation in order to best target your specific needs and to complete the exercises safely without compromising your abdominal muscle separation. We can provide a comprehensive home program to assist with your recovery or you can attend a Physio Post-Natal Class.

Did you know Rectus abdominis diastasis is also commonly known as:

  • Diastisis Recti
  • DRA (diastasis rectus abdominis)
  • DRAM (diastasis rectus abdominis muscle)
  • Mummy tummy or having a “pooch”
  • Tummy Separation
  • Abdominal Separation

About the Author

This article was written by Jessica Teeger. Learn more about Jessica and our pelvic physio team here.

 

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