Core Specialist, Cheryl Coppa, shares everything you need to know about the powerful no-sweat technique that will alleviate your pelvic floor dysfunction and change your life
By Cheryl Coppa
With June being prolapse awareness month, I must share with you one of the most POWERFUL tools of advanced exercise science methodology that we use in our Core & Pelvic Floor Restore Program.
This tool is used for prevention, management, and even reversal of Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and that is only one of the many many benefits of this type of training. If you missed last week’s blog on what a prolapse is, and why you need to know about it, read more here. It affects 50% of women, so be in the know!
Pelvic floor dysfunctions have continued to rise because of modern living and lack of education. Even when I started with all my Pelvic Floor Certifications, I was struck that these conditions are so common. If they are so common why is there no information, therapies, services and tools right at our disposal?
There has been a gap in women’s health and fitness. Doctors keep us alive and fix us when we need it, personal trainers keep us strong and hopefully prevent most issues. But, there is a gap between those options when it comes to Pelvic health in particular. Pelvic health is right at the center of ALL movements you make, so it is a must to address, yet this has not been incorporated into your wellness checks or your personal training and fitness routines. UNTIL NOW!
Now there are many pelvic floor physical therapists across the country and tailored specialized programs such as Ola Ka Ola that bridge this gap. The training I want to share with you today is called Low-Pressure Fitness or Hypopressives. I was certified by the co-creator Dr. Tamararial from Spain.
What is Low-Pressure Fitness (Hypopressives)?
The Hypopressive technique is to promote core fitness and injury prevention. This technique is inspired by Uddiyana Bandha, which is an advanced respiratory exercise used for thousands of years by yoga practitioners. A similar technique re-emerged in the 1970s with a completely different objective and context; bodybuilding. It was used to define the physique of bodybuilders to reduce their waist line. According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the combination of an impressive development of the serrates and an impressive space that makes this pose one of the best.
In the 1990s this technique started to be used in a therapy scene for the nervous system, fascial and urogynecological system. For the past 20 years, some fitness professionals have started to question and write about the need for a change in how we train the core.
There needs to be a better alternative without creating so much unnecessary pressure. In particular, as far back as 2001, Dr. Pinsach said: “You don’t stop doing abdominals, but your waistline stays as big as when you began or even worse, it’s bulkier. What is it you are doing wrong? People who exercise with repeated abdominal pressure (traditional core exercises such as crunches/sit-ups) will only favor a prolapse.“
To see the study on how traditional ab training contributes to Pelvic Floor dysfunctions read HERE. A study proving the effectiveness of the Hypopressive technique with ultrasound images is read HERE.
Now here we are present day using this technique which in the form we use is called LOW-PRESSURE FITNESS/HYPOPRESSIVES. We use it from a core, pelvic floor, breathing and postural standpoint which is AMAZING for prevention, management and reversal of Core and Pelvic Floor dysfunctions, such as leaking and prolapse, great for postpartum moms in rebuilding the core and tissues, and for a stronger more narrow waistline.
Main Objectives and Benefits of Low-Pressure Fitness:
To tone deep abdominals and pelvic floor muscles
To narrow waistline
To enhance posture
To prevent all types of herniation (abdominal, vaginal, and disc)
To regulate and /or improve respiratory function
To prevent/reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence
To prevent musculoskeletal injuries
To improve lumbar-pelvic stabilization
To prevent, manage, and even reverse prolapse
To enhance the quality of life and well being
The Immediate Effects of Low-Pressure Fitness/Hypopressive
The Hypopressive maneuver causes a suction effect, like a vacuum. Everything is drawing up. This creates a myofascial release, this is important to release because your pelvic floor can now have the freedom of movement to perform as it should in an otherwise tense, rigid state. Compare it to a knot in your back, myofascial tissue can get tight, causing muscles and tendons to be tight, painful and restrict movement. There is an immediate drawing up of the pelvic floor organs. So especially in the sense of a prolapse, getting those organs to draw up into their original space is what you want.
Over time you will notice the effects of a narrow waistline, improved respiratory fitness and function, and stronger muscles in the core and pelvic floor to function and support, as they should.
Now, especially if you have already had a surgery or a hysterectomy, you need this training more than ever. You will want to effectively train using low pressure to keep your muscles strong so the prolapse does not happen again. If you have a hysterectomy, there is now an open space. So fitness and strength in the core and pelvic floor is a must.
How do you Perform This Exercise of Low-Pressure Fitness/Hypopressives?
Since this is a postural, breathing exercise, the exercise is done in different postures. I'm going to show you my favorite one - The sitting position.
It’s important to be in a neutral alignment which is covered in PHASE 1 of our CORE & PELVIC FLOOR RESTORE PROGRAM. We will also keep our bodies in a working position.
My feet are flexed, my arms active, fingers spread and my shoulder blades are open behind me. I need to hold this posture during the breathing technique and make sure the shoulders do not rise up.
I’m going to take 3 rest breaths Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds Exhale out your mouth for 4 seconds.
On the last exhale, I'm going to make sure I let all the air out (otherwise it won’t give you the suction/vacuum effect). I'm going to close off my airways (you can plug your nose if you do not know how to close off your glottis). I’m going to attempt to inhale, but no air is coming in because my mouth and nose airways are all closed.
I’m going to continue to attempt to breathe in and this creates a suction where everything is going to draw up and in. It looks like I am sucking in my belly, but I’m not. I'm just going through the motions of trying to inhale and the response of the body is drawing everything up and in. You can see the drawing-up effect as my belly button is higher.
A powerful, effective technique that does not distend the core and pelvic floor as in most traditional core training. I like to call this the no-sweat technique. No sweat is required! You can do these exercises anywhere! Just like in these pictures, I'm doing the exercise in my skirt. This technique and training are widespread in Spain, the UK, and Canada and now making its way here to the U.S. Training you will see to be on the rise and increase in demand because of its amazing benefits, not only in pelvic health, but the entire body!
We learn this technique in PHASE 4 in our Core and Pelvic Floor Restore Program. We also do it weekly in the Core & Pelvic Floor Maintenance Program every Thursday at 9:30 am EST / 6:30 am PST.
With pelvic floor dysfunctions so common and prevalent, and prolapse showing up younger and younger (even in athletes), Low-pressure Fitness/ Hypopressives are the solution.
An exercise to train these muscles in a way that is going to counteract the pressure that we already put on these muscles, whether it be from training, sports, or life. The best way to understand this exercise is to do it yourself. I know the ladies that have taken our program would agree. If you are already a member, check out PHASE 4 in our core and pelvic floor program, or join the weekly LIVE session to see what it is all about.
*PRECAUTIONS: Low Pressure Fitness is not for pregnant women, women with IUDs or high blood pressure.
About Cheryl Coppa