Can I have DRA if I’ve never been pregnant?
Yes. Any time there is increased pressure inside the abdomen for a long period of time, it is possible to have separation between the abdominal muscles. This can happen with lung and breathing problems, repetitive strenuous activity without the right body mechanics and breathing patterns, or pressure from abdominal fat or bloating. No matter the cause of your DRA, physical therapy can help minimize your symptoms and optimize your core support while doing the activities that matter to you.
How can physical therapy help with my DRA?
The goal of physical therapy is to get your core muscles working to provide your body with support and stability. We use a variety of manual techniques to address restrictions in soft tissues and joints that can prevent your muscles from firing, and then teach you how to use your deep core muscles to stabilize your body. Gentle manual physical therapy throughout the second half of pregnancy may be able to minimize the formation or severity of a DRA by gently releasing some of the tension at the sides and back of your abdomen which tend to pull abdominal muscles apart. This allows a more comfortable expansion of your abdomen throughout, easing some of the uncomfortable tightness, and pressure pushing down on your pelvic area and up into your stomach and lungs. We also use rehabilitative ultrasound imaging to show you which muscles are working and how your DRA changes during exercise and over the course of treatment. In cases where there is significant discomfort or you are unable to do your daily activities without your abdomen doming, we may recommend supportive bracing or taping.
After the baby is born, does DRA go away on its own?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Pregnancy and childbirth, whether vaginal or cesarean, are big physical challenges for your body and different people need different amounts of help to recover. During pregnancy, the abdominal tissues become stretched and elongated and often need training to begin working again at their shorter postpartum length.
If my belly sticks out postpartum, does that mean I have DRA?
Maybe. Even if there isn’t a separation, abdominal tissues need to stretch and elongate to accommodate the fetus and will likely feel and appear loose postpartum whether or not there is a DRA.