Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation and Strength Recovery of Postnatal Diastasis Recti Abdominis Muscles

Ann Rehabil Med. 2017 Jun;41(3):465-474. doi: 10.5535/arm.2017.41.3.465. Epub 2017 Jun 29.


Objective: To assess the effect of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on the recovery of abdominal muscle strength in postnatal women with diastasis of recti abdominis muscles (DRAM).

Methods: Sixty women, 2 months postnatal, participated in this study. They were divided randomly into two equal groups. Group A received NMES in addition to abdominal exercises; group B received only abdominal exercises. The intervention in both groups was for three times per week for 8 weeks. The outcome measures were body mass index (BMI), waist/hip ratio, inter recti distance (IRD), and abdominal muscle strength in terms of peak torque, maximum repetition total work, and average power.

Results: Both groups showed highly significant (p<0.05) improvement in all outcomes. Further, intergroup comparisons showed significant improvement (p<0.05) in all parameters in favor of group A, except for the BMI.

Conclusion: NMES helps reduce DRAM in postnatal women; if combined with abdominal exercises, it can augment the effects.

Keywords: Abdominal muscles; Diastasis recti; Electrical stimulation therapy; Exercise; Postnatal care.