Rectus Diastasis & Abdominal Hernias

A rectus abdominus diastasis occurs when there is a separation, stretching or thinning in the linea alba (fascial portion of the rectus abdominus) of the rectus abdominus muscle commonly known as the “six-pack”. It occurs more commonly in women than men due to pregnancy, but its role in the cause of lower back pain in men is under reported. 


It frequently occurs during pregnancy when the linea alba softens due to hormones (relaxin) and the mechanical stretch resulting from the accommodation of the growing fetus. As pregnancy progresses, there is more pressure on the abdominal wall with the highest incidence of a rectus abdominus diastasis occurring in the third trimester. Although undesirable, it is a natural process of pregnancy that allows optimal growth for the fetus.

The diastasis can vary from a superficial tear that is minimal to a deep tear extending from the chest to the pubic bone. If abdominal contents ‘bulges’ through this separation, it is known as an abdominal hernia. Our team will put into perspective the significance of your diastasis and how it relates to your issues or goals.

Studies indicate that 66% of women with a diastasis will also have one other support related pelvic floor dysfunction such as incontinence or a pelvic organ prolapse due to altered neuro-muscular control strategies in the abdominal wall and pelvic floor muscles (PFM). There is a high incidence and correlation of these deficits to lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain. 


A rectus abdominus diastasis as a multi-factorial issue requiring consideration of the whole musculoskeletal system. We have found both retraining of the abdominal & pelvic floor muscles and treatment of other dysfunctional regions is most effective.

Physiotherapists at PhysioMotion will treat rectus abdominus diastasis’ and related issues. Our services include:


  • A detailed assessment using ultrasound guided imaging, skilled palpation and functional tests to determine the extent, depth and severity of the rectus diastasis
  • Determining the functional relevance of assessment findings to advise specifically on how to optimize healing, appropriate types & intensity of exercise , and when it is safe to return to sport
  • Expert advice & counselling regarding the factors to be considered or functional need for a surgical repair
  • An individualised progressive treatment plan from retraining activation patterns in the abdominal wall & pelvic floor muscles to integrating these strategies to full athletic performance
  • Management & exercise strategies to maintain optimal abdominal muscle function for subsequent pregnancies
  • Considerations for men suffering this condition will be made specific to their needs


At PhysioMotion, all our staff are trained to conduct real time ultrasound guided assessments for a rectus abdominus diastasis, pelvic floor and abdominal muscle function.