For the last couple of weeks with the change in weather, training has slacked due to constant coughs, colds and tummy bugs throughout the house. With my youngest teething (again), sleep hasn't been great for any of us. As we know sleep is so important for our well being and health, its all goes hand in hand. So I decided to do a rota at home for my partner and myself to rotate early mornings etc. (Not sure its gone down too well) but a mothers health is also equally important when working and bringing up children.
With a niggling dry cough, sneezing and blowing my nose, there has been more added pressure down on my pelvic floor. I have noticed a heavy feeling in my pelvic region, which has reminded me to revisit my optimal core breath. With all the coughs and sneezes you greatly increase the Intra Abdominal Pressure within the core region.
I always focus on the core breath when I am exercising and lifting, but it is so easily to forget with the subconscious movements like coughing and sneezing. Unfortunately with pregnancies and babies there is definitely more due care and attention needed to our bodies, these things were probably never really mentioned to us, after having babies. Controlling the abdominal pressure is a life long habit after having children, it is hard to remind yourself but very simple to learn. The more it is practised the more natural the neurological patterns become.
Below is an image of the four walls of the core, that need to work in synergy with one another.
For example sneezing causes a very violent contraction of the diaphragm and many muscles that support the neck and back. This is the rapid rise in 'intra abdominal pressure' exerting on an outward and downward force putting a lot pressure on the abdominal wall and also weakens the pelvic floor muscle. This is why it is so important strengthening and re-training the pelvic floor to work in synergy with the rest of the core.
Examples of actions that can increase the force of intra-abdominal pressure;
*Heavy lifting (lifting children)
*Jumping/ high impact
*Blowing hard nose/mouth
*Exercising including abdominal crunches
Unfortunately most of these above are part of everyday life. If there is already a weakness within the core and the pressure is poorly controlled, ongoing problems could occur. The abdominal pressure builds and is forced down towards the pelvic floor, which may be not strong/ functional enough to do its job and can lead to an array of pelvic floor dysfunctions such as;
*Stress Urinary/ Incontinence
*Pelvic Organ Prolapse
*Reduced Sexual Pleasure
*Hernias/ Prolapse (if you do feel you have any of these symptoms it is advised to speak to a health professional)
But we can prevent or reduce the risk of these from happening, if we look after our bodies by building stronger cores, correcting our alignment/ postures. Core instability is increased if it is not working in synergy which means the diaphragm, lower back, pelvic floor and the abdominal wall are not working together.
Usually I always integrate my core synergy breath into my workouts whether its weights, cardio or functional training. I have noticed a more heavy feeling on my pelvic floor when I do high knees or star jumps (which is unusual), this is because my core has not been working in synergy. So I need to focus again working with the breath within movement to protect myself. This can be a warning sign your pelvic floor is under pressure but can be corrected. The pelvic floor needs strengthening just like any other part of the body and probably more so. It is a part of a woman's body that needs the life long commitment. Again changes occur when you also hit menopause, so start now.
"If it doesn't feel right, get it checked out"
When I have clients come to me with either pelvic floor dysfunctions or diastasis he first thing we look at is the breath, this is a buiding block for mothers optimum recovery and forever more. We also use this as a big emphasis in my 'Postnatal core restore' class, I coach Intrinsic Core Synergy and the purpose of the breath into all the movements. The breath protects the body when incorporated into functional movement patterns and core strengthening work. With the commitment and practise, you can change the neurological patterns and create a subconscious movement that can protect you from many consequential problems if dismissed.