We use our core constantly through the day. Without our core we would not be able to stand upright, lift, lower push or pull things. We basically would not be able to move. We need a certain amount of intra-abdominal pressure, or core pressure, to keep your spine safe and healthy. Too little pressure when we chose to lift, lower, pull or push something or move our body and we’re likely to suffer from disc herniation and back pain. Too much pressure and we’re likely to suffer from hernias, pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction. We must learn how to manage the intra-abdominal pressure to ensure a well supported spine, a healthy pelvic floor, or to recover from organ prolapse and/or incontinence.
This is our abdominal pressure canister.
Our core consists of four major muscles
- the diaphragm ( our breathing muscle)
- our pelvic floor
- the transverse abdominus ( the girdle that wraps around our belly and attaches on the spine)
- the multifidus ( muscles that span along the side of our spine)
Notice that I did not include the rectus abdominus a.k.a. the 6 pack muscles nor did I include the oblique muscles. Those are certainly part of the abdominal group of muscles but are not part of the team that makes up the core.
It's all about a balance in pressure...We must have movement and coordination from the top, middle and bottom to adequately manage pressure. Here are a few ways that this pressure can be properly regulated
Understanding the link with breathing
The diaphragm and the pelvic floor are intimately linked during breath. When we inhale both the diaphragm and the pelvic floor expand and move down. When we exhale both muscles recoil back to their original position. They mirror each other. When we take deep breaths that move into the entire rib cage; front, side and back as well as allows gentle movement of the belly there will be just the right amount of downward pressure to allow the pelvic floor to do its excursion. Notice that I said ‘’gentle movement’’ of the belly. Deep belly breathing where the belly bulges out disrupts the pressure gradient and will create too great a downward pressure. This excess pressure over-taxes the pelvic floor and thus in the long run weakens it.
Holding our breath during effort increases the intra-abdominal pressure. The simplest advice is to never hold your breath when you do something physically demanding ( lift, lower, pull, push...). Always exhale. Learning to activate the core muscles to be able to brace properly for the amount of effort is the safer route to take when you want to do something physically demanding
Holding tension in the pelvic floor
When you hold even the smallest amount of tension in your pelvic floor, this prevents the pelvic floor from expanding with the inhale, essentially shutting down a major part of the pressure regulation system. You need pelvic floor expansion on the inhale and shortening on the exhale
Too many women try to avoid wetting themselves by doing Keegle like contractions as an exercise or as a preparatory bracing prior to effort. All too often the inappropriate timing of those contractions and the over-training of those muscles ends up shutting down the natural movement of the pelvic floor thus making it weaker over time. Without natural movement and function, you set yourself up of prolapse and leaks. For those who are faced with proplapse or leaks the healing journey cannot start until you break those habits.
Drawing in your belly button effectively shuts down the system.
We cannot adequately manage the intra-abdominal pressure if we constantly pull in our belly or if we wear pants that are tight around the belly. As much as we long to have a flat looking belly we do ourselves a huge disservice by attempting to get that by drawing in our bellies all day. There is also a bad habit that has been encouraged by the fitness industry for far too long; The cueing of pulling in the belly button to engage the core muscles prior to and during ‘’core style’’ exercises like planks and crunches ( by the way, please never do crunches to train your core anymore!) Since the pelvic floor works with the deep abdominals, most people that draw in their belly button also hold tension in their pelvic floor. This perpetuates both pelvic floor issues and diastasis.
Bearing down is detrimental.
Learning how to brace properly with the proper breath pattern is crucial so that we don’t bear down during effort. We want to make sure that our core acts like a solid canister and that we do not allow bulging of the belly and downward pressure to happen as a strategy. Careful attention to the shape of our belly during effort can help us with the proper loading without harmful pressure on the pelvic organs and muscles.
To prevent the bearing down from happening, you have exhale from the bottom up. The thing is, you can’t exhale from the bottom up if you never get a good inhale down. We must first lengthen to contract. Through this progressive system, you will eventually, effectively, do any movement you want safely.
Are you ready to take control and heal your pelvic floor issues?
Don't wait any longer to get your life back!
Do you know how amazing it feels like to be able to laugh out loud at a great joke? To be able to sneeze and cough as much as you want and need without peeing yourself? To be able to go for a long walk or do errands without the stress of timing things so that you can get to a bathroom in time? To have pain-free sex... ok THAT alone is a total game changer!!!
Join me for the upcoming Pelvic Floor Workshop to learn about these strategies and all the lifestyle habits, mindset, nutrition, massage techniques and movement patterns that will help you to solve and heal your issues with incontinence, prolapse, diastisis and pain during intercourse.
When you attend the Pelvic Floor Tune-up Workshop you get:
- a 6 hour coaching, educational and movement based session in a group of maximum 10 women ( lunch and snacks are included)
- The Online Pelvic Floor Tune-up Program for FREE! That alone has a value beyond $400.00!
- You will also have the option to join the Private Facebook group for ongoing support.
Online Pelvic Floor Tune-up Program
If you prefer to learn all of this in the privacy of your own home on your own time, you can invest in the online Pelvic Floor Tune-up Program. You will also have the option to join the Private Facebook group for ongoing support
I look forward to hearing all about your success stories!