Are your abdominal muscles separated?

While your baby or babies grew in your abdomen, the muscles at the front of your belly were pushed out and pulled apart. About 3 months after the birth of your baby, the muscles should have returned back together.

The elbowroom clinic comes in contact with hundreds of postnatal women every year availing of classes and clinic services. A growing issue we have become aware of is diastasis or postnatal abdominal muscle separation.

This is not a new phenomenon. One study shows 39% of women’s abdomen will typically not recover fully with other studies indicating up to 65% of women will suffer from diastasis post giving birth. Furthermore, the gap can worsen if women do sit-up type exercises.

“It was only when at The elbowroom during my mum and baby yoga class that a teacher-tested my stomach muscles. I was alarmed to feel a three finger gap between my muscles,” said one client. “I was experiencing back pain and seeing a bulge appearing on my tummy when doing sit-ups.”

In response, we have developed a full treatment protocol with our physical therapist, Ciarán Aherne. We offer a diagnostic check to any women no matter when she had her baby. With a treatment programme of physical therapy and core re-training/Pilates exercises which help an increasing number of women restore ‘mummy’s tummy’ to its healthy, rightful shape.


When your baby or babies grow, the muscles at the front of your belly push out and apart. About 3 months after the birth of your baby, the muscles should have returned back together.

Studies have shown that in about 39% of women the muscles do not come back together. Known as a diastasis, our routine health care providers rarely check for this condition. Left unchecked it can develop and cause problems.

Have I got a diastasis?

If you lie on the floor and contract your abdomen by doing a sit up and you can fit more than one finger in the central gap between your six-pack muscles, you probably do. This clip will show you how to do it.

What increases the risk of a diastasis?

Certain conditions predispose women of having a separation. These include:

  • A number of pregnancies in quick succession
  • Large babies
  • Incorrect abdominal activation
  • Loaded abdominal – retraining too early
  • Poor posture
  • Multiple pregnancies

What might happen if my muscles don’t return to normal?

  • Mummy Tummy – Is that appearance of a belt of jelly around your midriff. This isn’t dangerous but can make you feel self-conscious.
  • Lower back pain – As the muscles of your abdomen have weakened, they are unable to support your back effectively. This can result in persistent and worse lower back pain.
  • Herniation – The most serious condition is when the gap is quite wide, and the self-conscious starts to push through creating a hernia.

What increases the risk of a diastasis?

Certain conditions predispose women of having a separation. These include; multiple births, large babies, un-toned abdominal muscles, being overweight and having more than one child.

How we can help you recover from diastasis

At the clinic, we have researched and developed an effective treatment plan to help strengthen the weakened core muscles which can, in turn, reduce your abdominal separation and stop any abdominal doming which may be occurring. The Gap doesn’t need to close and for a lot of women, it will not. But what is really important is that they learn how to engage the correct abdominal muscles which will stop any abdominal doming and allow them to feel strong and confident with their tummy muscles.

When can I start?

It’s never too late. No matter when you had your last baby we can help. The sooner you start the quicker recovery is. Mothers of grown-up children have also benefited from our specialist treatments.

Covered by health insurance

Our physical therapist fees can be claimed back on most health insurance policies.

If you want to book a checkup with Ciaran, email or call +353 1 677 9859 for an appointment.

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