When the pressure increases on our pelvic floor (when we sneeze, laugh, cough, lifting anything heavy (such as kids!), it is extremely important to counteract these pressures with a pelvic floor brace.
Why is bracing important?
Think of the pelvic floor as a simple pressure system. Abdominal pressures directly above our pelvic floor musculature have the ability to drive significant force down onto it. Thanks a lot gravity!
In response to these pressures, the pelvic floor has to descend and give a little. While the buoyancy of the floor is a beautiful thing, when we have had children or our pelvic floor is weak, these forces serve to further weaker the muscles. The descent response becomes bigger and bigger and our muscles continue to weaken and ultimately influence our long term ability to control urine and bowel movements as well as preventing pelvic floor prolapse.
What Can I Do?
Brace your pelvic floor in these moments to help counteract these pressures. This is called “the Knack.”
I find a simple visualization exercise can help increase our ability contact our muscles in these high-pressure moments. Let’s use a cough as an example. Think of a hammer inside your abdomen. This hammer strikes down rather forcefully with a cough. The hammer’s pressure is applied directly to the hammock-like muscles that form our pelvic floor. This repeated pressure is not kind to our muscles. Muscles need to be elastic, buoyant and strong in order to counteract this pressure. Ultimately you need to have the ability to hold strong against these pressures but of course you need to also let the muscles go in order for them to relax and return to a resting state. (This topic is very important and deserves its own blog entry).
Visit your local pelvic floor therapist to find the correct way to train these muscles and to start fighting back against the forces of gravity!