Who would have thought that breathing plays such a huge part in the Core and Pelvic Floor?
I started working on my core strength after I had my babies, but not once did I consider that my breathing wasn’t correct and that in itself meant I wasn’t connecting with my core or pelvic floor properly.
I also weight train, lifting heavy weights, puts pressure on the core and pelvic floor, which is why it is so important to ensure your breathing is right. This means because I wasn’t breathing correctly, there was extra intra-abdominal pressure being put on my core and pelvic floor.
I had a Diastasis Recti, or abdominal separation, commonly caused in pregnancy, from the growth of the abdomen, and weakness of the connective tissue, the Linea Alba, which runs midline in the abdomen. Either side of this tissue is the Rectus Abdominis, or six-pack, this slowly separates, leaving a gap. It is really important to get your breathing right to perform exercises to close the gap, as any further intra-abdominal pressure can make the gap larger.
I was holding a lot of tension across my shoulders and my back. When I started to practice proper connection breaths, I could actually feel the tightness in my chest and shoulders. I realized I wasn’t breathing the right way. I was holding a lot of tension in this area.
How to perform connection breaths?
Start by laying down on your back. Make sure you have a neutral spine, don’t press your back into the floor. You can place a pillow under your knees if it’s more comfortable. Take a deep breath in, filling your lungs and watching your ribs expand and your chest rise, then a deep breath out. Take another deep breath in, as you do this, place your hand on your chest and one on your tummy.
You will see your tummy fill with air and rise, and your ribs expand, on the exhale, breath out slowly. On the exhale is the point of pulling up your pelvic floor gently and holding this for 10 seconds. Do not hold your breath just breathe normally. After 10 seconds release the pelvic floor down really relaxing and ensuring it is properly let down. You should repeat this 10 x along with pelvic floor pulses, 3 x a day. As you exhale you should be able to feel your Transverse Abdominals coming in. You are now connecting with your core. The Transverse Abdominus is the corset muscles of the abdominals.
The connection breath works by altering the pressure that goes through your core.
You have several muscles involved in your core, that affect your pelvic floor. There is the Multifidus, which are the deep muscles of the spine and they work in coordination with the pelvic floor, you have the Transverse Abdomininus which is the corset of muscles that wrap around your ribs and the Rectus Abdominis which are the muscles at the front (aka six-pack) and the Diaphragm.
The Diaphragm is the breathing muscle. When you breathe in or inhale the Diaphragm moves downwards and flattens and when you breathe out or exhale the Diaphragm moves back up. Upon breathing on the Inhale this causes the pressure in the abdominal cavity to change so everything moves down including the pelvic floor and on the exhale everything moves back and relaxes.
This is why it is so important to learn how to breathe correctly especially when performing pelvic floor exercises or weight/strength training and another day to day lifting, your babies, shopping bags, etc. Intra-abdominal pressure affects the way the core and pelvic floor.