Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) or the increased inter rectus distance (IRD) is described as
the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles. It can occur during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Mota et al. (2015) found DRA may affect up 100% of pregnant women , and it may persist
separated in the immediate postpartum period in 35% to 60% of women . Reported prevalence of
DRA or increased IRD varies and may be inaccurate due to different cut off points for the diagnosis
[1-7] and use of different measurement methods.
To date limited studies about the normal width of the IRD in postpartum women are available [8, 9], and there is scarce
information about risk factors for DRA.
There are some theories stating that failure to treat DRA effectively can lead to long term sequelae , including
abnormal posture , lumbo-pelvic pain and cosmetic imperfections . Postnatal women are stimulated to resume
abdominal exercises shortly after delivery  to improve trunk function and restore abdominal figure and fitness . To
date there is scant knowledge on the most effective abdominal exercises both during pregnancy and after childbirth. In
particular there is little evidence on which exercises are most efficient in the narrowing of the recti diastasis. The aim of
this article is to critically review the literature on the risk factors, functional implications and the effect of exercise on
DRA. This information is expected to be relevant for physiotherapists and exercise professionals.