BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) is a common issue in the obstetric population. Involving impairment along the linea alba and separation of the rectus abdominus muscles, DRA may generate cosmetic concerns and has been suggested (not yet supported) as a factor in LBP, pelvic pain, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. This secondary analysis of a two-armed RCT originally performed in 2010-2012, was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 16 week postpartum training program on the prevalence of DRA.
175 primiparous women (mean age 29.8 +/- 4.1) who delivered vaginally were randomized to exercise (n=87) and control (n= 88) groups. Finger width measurements were taken at baseline (6/52 postnatal), with the cut off for DRA at >/= 2.5 finger widths. The intervention consisted of a x1 weekly therapist supervised exercise class, which was mainly focused on strength training pelvic floor muscles + daily pelvic floor exercise at home. The control group received initial pelvic floor muscle instruction and written material. Finger width measures were then repeated at 6 months and 12 months. At home exercise data was collected and groups merged depending on frequency of exercise at home.
6 Weeks Post Partum: 51.7% (exercise) and 51.1%(control) were diagnosed with DRA at the umbilicus; 24.1% (exercise) and 14.8% (control) 4.5cm supra-umbilical; 4.6% (exercise) and 3.4% (control) 4.5cm sub-umbilical. In terms of severity of the total sample: 52% had mild,