Diastasis Recti: How To Know If You Have It

Diastasis Recti: How To Know If You Have It

Article contributed by Marianne Ryan PT, OCS, award-winning author of Baby Bod.

In Part Two of our series on diastasis recti, you will learn how to test for this condition. To learn more about what diastasis recti is and why it’s important to diagnose it, you can review Part One of this series.

How do I know if I have diastasis recti?

You can find out by doing a simple test with two measurements.

First, you’ll use your fingers to measure any gap or distance between your rectus or “six-pack” abdominal muscles. More than two fingers of separation suggests a problem.

Second, you’ll feel for the amount of tension you have between the 2 six-pack muscles, seeing if the connective tissue between these muscles is soft or taut. If this area is soft, it means that your core muscles aren’t working optimally to help hold your belly in place.

Part 1 – Measuring the Distance Between Rectus Muscles:

  • Lie on a firm, flat surface. Use a pillow to support your head and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Relax your tummy muscles.
  • Place one hand on your belly as follows: First, point your fingers down towards your tummy and hold your hand horizontally so you can see the palm of your hand. Keep your fingers together and place them about 2 inches (5 cm) above your belly button (as shown in Figure 4).
  • Gently push your fingers down into your abdomen and keep them there as you lift your head up (Figure 5). (If this is painful, use less pressure.)
  • Keep your shoulders on the floor or mat; do not perform a crunch by lifting your chest up.
  • Do you feel a soft space between your muscles? If so, how far apart is the space? Measure this by how many fingers you can fit in the soft spot. Is it one finger width? Two fingers’ width? Three fingers’ width or more?
  • Feeling for the area of separation, record your answers to the following questions:
  1. How many fingers fit into the gap just above your belly button (about 2 inches or 5cm)?
  2. How many fingers fit into the gap just below the belly button (about 1 inch or 2.5cm)?

Part 2:

  • Next, turn your hand horizontally. Press downwards and feel for tension. Is there a soft spot between your muscles, so that you can press downwards, or does it feel firm?
  • Record your answer: Is the spot between your muscles soft, a little soft, or taut?


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Disclaimer: This is general medical information and not specific medical advice.  It does not and should not replace diagnosis or treatment by your healthcare provider. If you are seeking personal recommendations, advice, and/or treatment, please consult your physician. If you have an emergency, you should contact 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.