Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Lumbo-Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction-Are They Related?

Renew PT Research Review:

Title of Study Reviewed:
Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Lumbo-Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction – Are They Related?
By: Parker, Millar, Dugan. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy, 32:1, Spring 2008


Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is separation of the two bellies of the rectus abdominis muscle at the linea alba. Like a zipper, these abdominal muscles can separate due to the incorrect performance of abdominal exercises or suddenly sitting up at of bed, called jack-knifing. Separation also commonly occurs during and after pregnancy.

A 2008 study by Meredy Parker, et al, demonstrated that women with a DRA tend to have a higher degree of abdominal or pelvic region pain. Read on to discover how DRA can lead to pelvic pain, incontinence, prolapse and urinary urgency/frequency.

Renew PT – Discussion

There is an important link between diastasis recti separation and pelvic pain. DRA has a profound effect on the function of the pelvic floor muscles (PFM). The abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles work together, in a synergistic relationship. When DRA is present, there is less support for the pelvic organs and the PFM are compromised and contract less effectively. The presence of a DRA can lead to urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. In addition, a DRA can lead to decreased support for the bony architecture of the pelvis and spine. This instability can lead to low back, sacro-iliac (SI) joint pain and pelvic pain.

The presence of DRA also alters the function and insertion the transversus abdominis and external oblique muscles. This alteration in biomechanics and insertion can lead to abdominal trigger points. Trigger points are common causes of urinary urgency, urinary frequency and pelvic pain.

How Do I Check for Diastasis?

1) Lie on your back with your knees bent.
2) Exhale and slightly lift your upper back off of the floor. Check how many fingers you are able to insert horizontally two inches above the umbilicus, at the umbilicus and two inches below the umbilicus.
3) A DRA of one-to-two fingers is considered normal. A separation wider than 2 fingers requires correction.

How Do I Correct a Diastasis?

It would be wise to contact a physical therapist who is trained in pelvic floor and bladder dysfunction. Contact us at Renew PT for a free 10 minute phone consultation. You can also Click here as well for a link to Renew PTs Free Info Center for a basic correction on a diastasis recti separation.


If you are a person who suffers from pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, low back pain or bladder dysfunction, it is imperative that you screen yourself with the above test for Diastasis Recti separation. Correcting your DRA will put you on the right track to reducing your symptoms and moving down the road on your healing journey.


Renew Physical Therapy New York, NY – Call 877-Renew-PT for Your Free 10 Minute Phone Consultation

Ending Female Pain, A Woman’s Manual – by Isa Herrera – Great chapter on diastasis correction and how it relates to pelvic pain.

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Lumbo-Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction-Are They Related? – Copy of Above Reviewed Article

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