A Diastasis Recti is a symptom of intra-abdominal pressure that the abdominal wall is unable to contain. It is common during pregnancy, as the growing baby places natural pressure outward (and downward) stretching out the abdominals. If the baby grows beyond the rectus abdominis’ ability to stretch, a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue provide the additional space required.
However, not just pregnant and postpartum women deal with this condition. Anyone can get an abdominal separation, carrying a baby is not a requirement. It is caused by uncontained pressure, so quick weight gain in the tummy area, bearing down too hard when using the restroom or weak abdominals combined with an intense coughing or sneezing bout could also cause a separation at the linea alba.
Finally, intense exercise can also increase the pressure in your abdominal cavity and over time, if the deep core muscles aren’t properly engaged when bearing down during weight lifting, crunches or any intense movement, a separation can occur. Therefore, when beginning an exercise program it is very important to ensure that the inner core (transversus abdominis and pelvic floor muscles) are functioning well before engaging in intense movements.