Although various studies share the facts that diastasis recti is mostly resulted from pregnancy, this issue in fact, may affect women that have never been pregnant and more interestingly, men. This rectal disorder is common, yet commonly does not induce any life-threatening symptoms. However, knowing the right diagnose is still crucial in order to make sure suitable treatment is performed as early as required.
Common symptoms of diastasis recti in men
Diastasis recti in men happens gradually overtime. The most common symptom of this disorder in men is the occurrence of a pooch or bulge in your abdominal area. This pooch will be more noticeable when the abdominal muscles are strain or contracted. In addition to this physical symptom, diastasis recti in men also impair daily activities, making it more difficult to perform chores and regular tasks, such as carrying objects—the heavy ones, moreover, bending, and sitting up from a flat position.
There are some other symptoms related to the bulging of this “gap” between the rectus abdominis muscles running vertically on either side of naval, including lower back pain, poor body posture, bloating, and severe constipation.
What causes diastasis recti in men?
As widely researched, diastasis recti happens to both men and women, and in women, the most common culprit is pregnancy. This is possible as the growth of uterus during pregnancy puts excessive pressure to the abdominal muscles, causing the gap gradually. In men, the basic theory is similar and thus, the internal pressure given to the abdominal muscles around the belly is still the main trigger of this formation of bulged abdominal muscle.
Some men with below characteristics might be more susceptible to diastasis recti compared to some others.
1. Being overweight
Medically, excessive weight both in men and women is known to possibly trigger various health problems. While in women excessive weight will mainly affect the hip, in men, this affects the abdominal area first. Hence, you will put regular increased amount of pressure to your abdominal muscles by being overweight. This will gradually create gap occurring between the muscles, as a result.
2. Performing heavy abdominal exercises
While exercises are advised for your health, performing too heavy exercises on your abdominal area may lead to the occurrence of bulge on your stomach. Thus, men with heavy sit-up and weightlifting activities may be more prone to the issue.
3. Bending over to pick up heavy packages and stuffs
Your daily chores and habits may also gradually weaken the abdomen and thus, trigger diastasis recti. Therefore, men are advised not to bend over while picking heavy packages. Instead, try to pick it up by squatting or lifting, as these latter two will put less pressure to your abdominal area.
In more severe case, which fortunately less common, diastasis recti in men is induced by abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a condition in which the large vessel carrying blood to your abdominal area swells. Bulge caused by this condition, different from the previously elaborated one, thus might be life-threatening.
What to do once diastasis recti is noticed?
1. Getting prompt and proper diagnose
With most health issues, prompt and proper treatments will fix raised symptoms and complications. Related to performing right treatments and medications—if required, initial diagnose is crucially needed. If you notice the bulge on your stomach and possess one or more characteristics of the susceptible sufferers, you might ensure yourself about your exposure to this abdominal issue. However, in more complicated symptoms, doctor visit might be required.
Doctors can diagnose diastasis recti through physical examination. You will be told to lie flat on your back and perform a crunch or half sit-up. If you are suffering from the issue, a vertical bulge between your abdominal muscles will be visible. In order to determine the severity of the problem, doctors will measure the gap through a CT scan, an ultrasound, or using calipers.
2. Determining suitable post-diastasis recti exercises
In regard to treatments afterwards, many patients tend to choose to do nothing. As long as your severity is minimal, this will be allowed, as in fact, diastasis recti does not commonly induce further health issues other than merely cosmetic one. Less severe diastasis recti can be improved by doing exercises that strengthen your abdomen, yet do not put too excessive pressure around it. Doctors may be able to define which exercises are the most suitable for your diagnosed problem. Yoga and pilates are common advised exercise types.
3. Having surgical treatments
With more severe problem—such as when the gap between your abdominal muscles is too big, you may need a surgical treatment to correct the problem. Conventional surgery, such as a tummy tuck can be done to improve the gap condition. In addition, laparoscopic ones may also be advised.
Some exercises—after confirmed by your medical practitioners can be done at home, in order to improve diastasis recti-affected abdomen. These exercises should be done in gradual intensity and make sure you are not doing any excessive attempts as this may instead, worsen the issue.
What if diastasis recti not treated?
The abdominal wall is made up of some layers of different muscles and tissues. Diastasis recti results in gap between the abdominal gaps. When this gap is not treated, the internal material may poke through the opening. This condition is coined as umbilical hernia, which occurs when a gap between abdominal muscles or tissues is not closed.
There is a close relation between an umbilical hernia and diastasis recti. If you have an umbilical hernia, you most likely have diastasis recti. Hence, if you have surgical attempts on the umbilical hernia without having the gap closed, there is a chance that your repaired umbilical hernia will not last long.
Having diastasis recti closed means repairing the connective tissues. When these tissues are re-connected and thus, the gap is gradually closed, you will give sufficient support to the umbilical, which will not let the internal material poke through the opening.