A tummy gap?
What is that?
Is it normal?
Do I have one?
I often hear these questions when I am doing a mummy MOT post-natal check. A tummy gap, or a diastasis recti, is an abnormal gap between the 2 six-pack muscles of the tummy. It often occurs after childbirth, but not always.
So, let’s start at the beginning. There are 4 layers of tummy muscles, the external obliques running down and inwards, the internal obliques running upwards and inwards, the rectus abdominus (the six pack), from the top down to the pelvis, and the deepest layer the transverse abdominus (TVA) running horizontally around like a corset. The right and left side muscles never touch. They are separated by the linea alba, a strong connective tissue called fascia that holds the 2 halves together and closes the midline.
During pregnancy the abdominal muscles separate and the linea alba becomes stretched. This is normal. After pregnancy the muscles usually come back together, if they don’t then there is a tummy gap remaining. The current research on the size of a normal gap is inconclusive, anything upto 1-2cm can be normal, the latest research suggests that the tension that can be generated in the linea alba is much more important than the size of the gap.