Our expert staff have experience and knowledge in all aspects of physiotherapy and sports injury management.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Two-Minute Check all Mums Should Do!

The mummy tummy has become an epidemic. And most women we see are so keen to work it off immediately. BUT - Before you do a single sit-up, you need to check you don't have abdominal separation. The condition, known as rectus abdominus diastasis (RAD), occurs when the connective tissue that knits your abdominals together has been stretched out during pregnancy, leaving you with a gap between your abdominals. 

It's believed to affect at least a third of first-time mothers and 70 percent of mothers who have had two babies or more. Although separation is generally perceived as a cosmetic problem due to the tell-tale paunch sufferers often sport, the weakness in your abdominal wall can lead to a whole host of ailments, including back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction or even prolapse.

Who is at Risk ? 

The condition is caused by excessive pressure inside your abdomen and pelvis, so while men, children and women who have never been pregnant can also suffer from RAD, it's commonly noticed in the latter stages of a woman's pregnancy when the body is trying to make room for a growing baby. Every single pregnant woman is thought to suffer with some degree of separation during their third trimester. All women will have some degree of RAD immediately post-birth, but for many the gap closes by itself during the days and weeks that follow childbirth. It is the women with the abnormally wide ones that we are more concerned about. Separation generally ranges from 1–8cm wide. 

What Happens if it Goes Untreated ?

If you still have abdominal separation at eight weeks postpartum, it's likely that treatment will be required to help bring your stomach muscles back together. The abdominal wall plays a crucial role in the body as it transfers load from our legs and pelvis up to our thorax and arms, so if it is not functioning in an optimal way it can lead to all sorts of issues, such as low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, issues returning to exercise and pelvic floor issues. In fact, we know that 66 percent of women that have an RAD will also have stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, and we believe this is due to the loss of support with in the deep system.

How Do I Test Myself For It?

  1. Lie down on back with your knees bent.

  2. Place your fingers at your belly button and allow them to sink in.

  3. Do a chest lift (stomach crunch) so your head, neck and shoulders lifts up off the floor.

  4. Using your fingers, feel for how much distance there is from the two sides of the muscles and also how deep to goes. 

A diastasis gap is measured in finger widths. A 1–2 finger width gap or less is fine and quite common, but anything more means that your core is in need of some attention.

Okay, I Have It — What Next? 

The good news is, RAD is easy to test for and, in most cases, can be treated through exercise alone. However, it's important to understand that treating RAD is a whole body fix, and not just about closing "the gap". This is the time to see a specialised Women's health Physio but there's plenty you can be doing at home. 

If you can learn the correct posture to hold your body in — for example, avoiding an arched back and imagine your ribs remain connected to your pubic bone. Unfortunately focusing on traditional "core exercises", such as planks and sit-ups, often increase the separation. Learning to engage the correct muscles with one of our Physios throughout the day, such as when pushing the pram or lifting your baby, will have you training the abdominal muscles without even doing a work out.

Our Women's Health Physios check your abdominal separation at our comprehensive 6 week post-natal check appointment along with assessing your pelvic floor and educating you on how to help your body through this time of change. Alternatively, if you've passed this point, you can book a consult (put aside an hour) to specifically check your diastasis. We use our real-time ultrasound to assess the width and depth of your separation and set out a plan to help minimise it.

Call on 9968 3424 to book an appointment or book online here



Check out more articles like this on popsugar.com.au


October 3, 2017 0 Comments

Reader Comments

There are no comments on this post. Be the first!

Add Your Comments

(not published)


SquareOne Physiotherapists are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal problems.

Read more


SquareOne Remedial Massage Therapists are experienced in a wide range of soft tissue therapy techniques.

Read more

Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates involves the conscious recruitment and control of muscular movements in the body.

Read more
  • What do Womens Health Physio's do postnatally?
  • Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a womans life. It is also one of most physically strenuous, with numerous potential short and long term consequences for both body and mind. 

  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Pessaries
  • What are they? And who are they for?
    Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is a very common condition in women, and can result in leaking from the bladder or bowel, a feeling of heaviness or bulging in the vagina, or even lower back pain. POP can vary significantly in its severity, the organ involved and the cause. Mild POP may be completely symptom free, however to stop the POP progressing and worsening women should be seen by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for lifestyle advice, strengthening exercises where appropriate and possibly the use of a pessary to support the POP. 
    Pessaries are a silicone or plastic device that can be inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs. If there is a lack of support for your pelvic organs – usually due to muscle weakness, fascial (ligament) damage, or a recent vaginal birth, there is a risk of developing or worsening a Pelvic Organ Prolapse – POP. 
    In the past, pessaries have almost exclusivly been used in the older female population – mainly post menopausally to manage a current POP if surgery was not wanted or appropriate. However, recently pessaries are being used more and more in the younger female population, and in particular early post natal women. We often use pessaries to support a mild POP while the body heals and recovers post pregnancy and birth, or prophylactically for women who want to return to high impact exercise or running before their pelvic floor and fascia are ready. The positive effects from exercise on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are vast and very well known, however many women who have a POP are told that they can’t do a particular exercise anymore. The use of a pessary can give many women the required support to allow a safe return to high impact exercise, or even just symptomatic relief so that they don’t notice the POP.
  • The key to nailing your New Year goals.
  • As our New Year ticks over, it’s always a time to reflect on the year that’s been and of course set new goals for the year to come.
    Often these goals involve health and fitness and with this sudden increase in exercise, we often see an increase in certain types of injuries within the clinic.

  • Text Neck, Thumb Stress and Other New Diagnoses of 2017
  • Tech injuries: the world’s next health scare
    Our laptops, tablets and mobile phones have become extensions of our limbs, and new, previously-unseen health problems are on the rise.
    Holiday time often means more screen time for kids and also checking emails on phone etc. We are seeing more and more people as a result of the technologically driven world we live in today. Whilst this world is all about instantaneous gratification where everything is done in a click of a button, it’s time we thought about the effects that will be felt further down the line.



  • We recommend women have a pelvic floor assessment prior to giving birth. Find out why below....
  • For many women it is not until the child bearing years that they have even heard of the pelvic floor, let alone given it much attention. 
    Historically the focus for the pelvic floor has always been based around strengthening, however  just like any other muscle in the body the pelvic floor has the potential to a to also become excessively tight (hypertonic) and this can be incredibly problematic for some women. Clinically, we are now seeing an increase in the number of women presenting with hypertonic pelvic floors and the reasons for this seem to be multifactorial in nature mainly based around lifestyle and behavior choices. Factors such as high level participation in exercise can encourage over activation of the pelvic floor, and constipation from poor dietary choices can lead to chronic straining and a pelvic floor that is always in spasm. The impact of today’s fast paced lifestyle has also lead to a pelvic floor that is constantly ‘switched on’ as a result of a lack of relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and high anxiety and stress levels.
    To understand why it is so important to have it checked prior to birth, first we need to understand what it is and what it actually does…..