Rectus abdominis diastasis (RAD)

Here is a great blog from Amber Whiteford, on Rectus Abdominis Diastasis, also known as RAD. It is a common occurrence during pregnancy as the abdomen grows and the abdominal muscles are stretched. Following pregnancy the RAD can remain without effective abdominal exercises. The following information gives some great advice on how to look after your abdominals after childbirth and prevent some of the negative effects of RAD. If you require more information please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly physiotherapists at LifeCare Cockburn Central .

What is it?

RAD is a gap between the rectus abdominis (six-pack) muscles. As the abdomen grows during pregnancy, it stretches the connective tissue and the rectus abdominal muscles. The muscles have not torn apart! The trunk and abdominal muscles have a role in posture, stability and movement and when they aren’t functioning properly, then this can lead to poor posture and even low back pain.

What causes it?

The connective tissue between the muscles are weakened and softened from pregnancy hormones and the physical stretching, when making room for baby. RAD can occur from 14 weeks gestation and increases until delivery. Risk factors for RAD include maternal age, babies with large birth weight, multiples or multiple pregnancies in a short period.


Antenatal exercise and posture retraining is important during pregnancy can prevent the incidence of RAD. Walking, antenatal hydrotherapy and Pilates are safe exercise options during pregnancy, when carried our by a qualified instructor. Changes in weight distribution and carrying extra weight in pregnancy can alter your abdominal strength. Exercise helps maintain abdominal strength, tone and flexibility to prevent the risk of a large RAD.




Book a ‘6 week post natal check’ with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to have your RAD and pelvic floor muscles assessed with a real time ultrasound.


Benjamin D.R, van de Water A.T.M. [Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review.] Elsevier 2014. Physiotherapy 100 (2014) 1–8.

Mesquita L.A, Machado A.V, Andrade A.V. [Physiotherapy for reduction of diastasis of the recti abdominus muscles in the post partum period]. Rev Basil Ginecol Obstet 1999;21:267-72. (Portugese)

Hsia. M,Jones. S. [Natural resolution of the rectus abdominus diastasis. Two single case studies]. Aust J Physiotherapy 2000;46:301-7.

Chiarello C.M, Falzone L.A, McCaslin K.E, Patel M.N, Ulery K.R. [The effects of an exercise program on diastasis recti abdominis in pregnant women]. Journal Women’s Health Physical Therapy 2005; 29:11-6.

Zappile-Lucis M. [Quality of Life measurement and physical therapy management of a female diagnosed with diastasis recti abdominus]. Journal Women’s Health Physical Therapy 2009; 33:22.