Causes of stomach muscle separation include pregnancy, especially if a person is over 35 and is pregnant with a heavy baby or multiple babies, states WebMD. Weightlifting the wrong way, doing sit-ups and engaging in yo-yo dieting, which is weight cycling or losing weight and regaining it repeatedly due to dieting, also cause this condition. This makes the space between the right and left belly muscles widen, causing the belly to protrude.
During pregnancy, the uterus may stretch the muscles in the stomach, making them separate, a condition called diastasis recti abdominis, according to Mayo Clinic. This condition develops in late pregnancy but is mainly noticeable right after delivery or during abdominal muscle tension, such as coughing.
The risk for this condition increases with having more than one pregnancy, especially if the pregnancies are close to each other, explains WebMD. This condition can also occur in newborn babies but normally goes away on its own. Stomach muscle separation can cause urine leakage, constipation, hernia, difficulty breathing and lower back pain.
Patients should be careful with exercise, as some moves, such as pushups, front planks and crunches, can make this condition worse, says WebMD. Patients should consult health care providers if symptoms of diastasis recti abdominis appear and seek advice from a physical therapist to determine the right exercise, advises Mayo Clinic.