Diastasis Recti: Mummy Tummy in Men Too.

“Mummy tummy” and “men” don’t seem like they belong in the same sentence, do they? But keep reading! You might just be one of the many men diagnosed with Diastasis Recti.

Have you ever wondered about that vertical bulge on your stomach that you chalked up to weight gain or too much beer?

Are you experiencing discomfort in your abdominal area, difficulty breathing, lower back pain and constipation?  If you’ve at least checked more than one item from that list, you might have mummy tummy, or better known as, Diastasis Recti. And yes, men have it too. Some call it a guy gut.

Just how many men share the same worries as you, you might ask? To put things into perspective, the phrase “diastasis recti in men” gets a whopping 4,400 searches monthly in Google. Yes. Monthly. So rest assured that you are not alone in this battle.

I’m sure you have some burning questions, so in this article we’ll talk about the why’s and what’s of diastasis recti but most especially the how’s of diastasis recti treatment for men.

That’s right! Diastasis recti can be treated.

 

First off, what is diastasis recti (DRA)?

 Measure Belly

The term “diastasis” comes from the Greek word meaning “to separate.” Diastasis recti refers to the separation of the muscles that run vertically on either side of the navel from the breastbone to the pubic bone.

Diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, are common in pregnant women and new moms—nearly two-thirds or more experience it. It does not, however, mean that diastasis recti in men is impossible and that is why you are reading this article.  To know more about DRA you can check out this resource.

This occurs when too much pressure is exerted on abdominal muscles. The strain causes them to separate through the middle, allowing what’s normally protected behind the abdominal wall to push through. It can result in a vertical bulge, or “bubble gut,” in men.

It’s also associated with a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue that binds the vertical muscles on each side of your belly button, known as abdominis recti.

It develops in men gradually over time and it is due to some unhealthy practices (which we will later explore) and is noted by a protruding bulge in the mid-abdomen. It can be fully seen when doing a sit-up exercise however it is often misdiagnosed simply as weight gain due to the lacking tone, or tension, of the muscles and the look of a pooch.

Diastasis recti is actually more common than you think. It can also be found even among infants due to muscle development problems, and of course pregnant women due to the abdomen stretching from a growing uterus. Diastasis recti in men, on the other hand happens due to several factors:

  1. Incorrect Exercising

Exercise without the proper knowledge of techniques and safety precautions is equally as harmful as a sedentary lifestyle. Consequently, it is important to know what type of workout routine or strength training exercise suits your physique best. Crunches, sit-ups and some weightlifting exercises can lead to diastasis recti.

  1. Abdominal surgery where they fill your belly up with air.

  2. Car accidents which puts force on the abdominal muscles

  3. Taking steroids can weaken the connective tissue

  4. Genetic or Medical Predisposition

Past medical conditions can lead to more complications that may result to diastasis recti.  However some health conditions are unfortunately hereditary, meaning that the risk is higher in those with family members that have this condition but personally, I think that the silver lining in knowing one’s medical history is knowing what to look out for and having enough time to prepare.

 

  1. Excess Weight and Obesity

Weighing Scale

In men, diastasis recti can occur from gaining extra weight. This does not only mean excess body fat deposits but also an excess in weight in terms of muscle – which is the reason why quite a lot of heavyweight power lifters and body builders have the “bubble guts.”

Normally, extra weight for women usually accumulates on the hips, which makes non-pregnant women less prone to diastasis recti, whereas men tend to add weight in the abdomen area first. When men rapidly gain weight, the extra pounds can apply increased pressure to the stomach muscle, causing diastasis recti in obese males, or overweight males, to occur.

  1. Other Causes

Some causes of abdominal splitting can be due to other conditions. Sometimes swelling can occur in the abdomen as a result of fluid filling into the abdominal cavity. This can happen in people with cirrhosis of the liver or cancer in the abdominal walls. Age may also play a role as diastasis recti in older adults, which is common, especially if they’ve been overweight for a long time.

Now, if you are considering just putting-up with it and brush it off as a cosmetic condition, you might however want to continue reading first. 

Not firming up your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, you run the risk of promoting your condition to pelvic organ prolapse. Your pelvic floor is connected to your core, and to have healthy abdominal muscles the whole system needs to function well which includes a flat belly.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that affects the pelvic support system. Prolapse happens when the rectum or bladder is swollen or dropping. It commonly affects females but does occur in men too.

Not a particularly delightful experience to look forward to, isn’t it?

 

Moving forward, here is probably your most burning question,

How do you get rid of Diastasis Recti?

 

Abdominoplasty

Abdomino-what? Abdominoplasty, if you fancy going under the knife, is a cosmetic surgical procedure where it closes the gap in the abdominal muscles caused by diastasis recti. The Linea Alba, the fibrous structure that runs down the midline of the abdomen, is sutured and folded together in this surgical procedure. On the front of the body, right across the front line also known as the bikini line, the skin in that area will be lifted.

 

Abdominoplasty sounds like a very complex procedure but it only lasts for an hour and a half – However it is important to note that this medical procedure is only for men with a severe case of diastasis recti.

 

But, there are much less invasive and a whole lot cheaper method of treatment too.

 

The Tupler Technique®

The Tupler Technique® is a research and evidenced based exercise program to treat diastasis recti.  This is also backed by almost 30 years of accumulated experience working with women, men and children to help them close their diastasis since 1990. Basically, closing a diastasis with the Tupler Technique® is all about healing the connective tissue. The 4-step program does this by:

  1. Continuously approximating or bringing both the connective tissue and muscles closer together with the Diastasis Rehab Splint®. This takes the stretch off the “stretched out” connective tissue and puts the connective tissue in a better position to heal and do the Tupler Technique® exercises
  2. Protecting the connective tissue from getting stretched from activities and movements that stretch it (i.e. crunches, forward crossover movements, downward facing abdominals or movements that flare the ribs).
  3. Developing transverse awareness and strength with the Tupler Technique® exercises so the transverse muscle can then be used with activities of daily living and also while working out.

The Tupler Technique® emphasizes a mind-muscle connection and body awareness while offering a targeted approach to healing the area.  Find out and get more information about the different treatment programs here

Here is a before and after image of a male patient who had Diastasis recti. 

 

Before and After Diastasis Recti

If you want to see more before and after images click here.

 

Final Thoughts on Diastasis Recti

Indeed there are a lot of treatments at your disposal; most online articles even simply encourage self-treatment which in my opinion is risky and will more likely make matters worse. However, when it comes to your health and well-being, it is important to check first with your doctor and ask for a proven, evidence-based, researched-backed treatment. I hope I helped you make an informed choice, let’s work together and fight Diastasis Recti!