STABILIZE YOUR SPINE WITH LOW PRESSURE FITNESS

Eight out of ten people suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is one of the main causes of seeking medical advice, But, did you know that exercise is the therapy that has shown the most evidence in treating lower back pain?

 

There are a variety of exercises which can be grouped under the label of core stability or core training. Core stability training refers to the strengthening of the trunk muscles which help to stabilize the spine. These muscles, responsible for spine stabilization, are divided into two main groups: global and local stabilization muscles.

 

  • The global and superficial stabilization system generates the major torques of movement involving the spinal erectors, the quadratus lumborum and the rectus abdominis muscles.
  • The local and deep stabilization system is responsible for providing a rigid base for movement and posture. This system includes the pelvic floor, the multifidus and the transverse abdominal muscles.

 

Different studies on exercises for core stability training have shown positive results in the areas of prevention and of treatment of lower back pain. Today, these exercise techniques have become an essential part of all rehab programs carried out in gyms, sports centers, hospitals and clinical practices.

 

One of the principal goals of core training is to locate and maintain a neutral spine position across exercises which will favor muscle co-activation and central muscular stability within the natural physiological limits of each person. Progressive and regular core training will improve motor control and patterns of muscular recruitment. Core stabilization exercises designed to reduce lumbar back pain may also aim increase spinal strength and rigidity.

 

In the initial phase of core training the main goal is to activate the local and deep stabilization system. Attention is focused on activating the muscles while keeping the back in a neutral position which will help in keeping postural balance. The most suitable positions at this early stage are lying, sitting and on all-fours. Two of the best beginner exercises are the bridge and all-fours.

 

Low Pressure Fitness training system has adapted these basic core stability positions and their corresponding transitions from the most basic level to the most advanced, and given them the names of Aphrodite and Gaia.

 

Learn Aphrodite and Gaia

The key aspects of  Aphrodite as Gaia are awareness of spinal elongation and the maintenance of spinal neutral position. In the learning phase of Aphrodite and Gaia, one of the most common mistakes is to perform a pelvic tilt as a reflex mechanism to protect your lumbar spine. That’s why it is essential to identify technical errors and to learn the exercises properly with a qualified LPF trainer.

 

APHRODITE

To perform Aphrodite in its basic level, lie down on your back with bent knees and ankles in dorsi-flexion. Stretch your arms with the palm facing upwards as shown in the picture. Your arms should be pressing slightly the floor and you should be trying to lengthen and stretch your arms by increasing the space between your chest and shoulders. From this position, lift your hips to draw a perfect straight line between your knees, pelvis and chest. You should hold this pose during three respiratory cycles. During the third exhalation, slowly bring your hips down and lower your back to the floor.

 

 

afrodita-lpf

The next step in Aphrodite combines the upward pelvic movement with the breathing Low Pressure Fitness technique. After the third exhalation, hold your breath, slowly expand your ribcage, and open your chest while your hips rise slowly from the floor. Once you have your back, chest and knees in perfect alignment, breathe for three respiratory cycles. Lower your hips slowly during the third exhalation.

aphrodite-lpf

GAIA

Start off on an all-fours position as shown in the image. The ankles are in dorsi-flexion with your knees in line with your pelvis and your hands in line with your shoulders. For Low Pressure Fitness first level beginners, the first step should be to learn the correct spine alignment. Your spine should be perfectly aligned, parallel with the floor.

 

Gaia-lpf

One of the challenges in this position is to keep the pelvis neutral and your neck in line with your back. For beginners, it is common to see hyperextension in the neck or pelvic tilt. Hold the position during three complete respiratory cycles, in which you will lengthen the spine by pushing your head in the opposite direction of the sacrum.

gaia-lpf

If you can hold the position successfully for several repetitions you are ready to move on to the next level of Gaia which includes the specific breathing pattern from the Low Pressure Fitness program.

 

It is always advisable to consult with a specialist before starting any exercise program for lower back pain on your own. Qualified health and exercise professionals are your best guarantee of guidance. You can find a list of all our certified Low Pressure Fitness trainers in our online directory.

 

 

Author:
Tamara Rial, PhD

TREATMENT OF URINARY INCONTINENCE WITH HYPOPRESSIVE EXERCISE

The Spanish Scientific Nursing Society journal (SCELE) has just published an original research article titled Hypopressive exercise for the treatment of urinary incontinence in multiparous women: clinical series.

 

The study presented the results of treating a clinical series of multiparous women who suffered from urinary incontinence. Based on the hypopressive exercise guide described by the founders of Low Pressure Fitness (Rial and Pinsach, 2014), a novel protocol was proposed with the objective of improving urine leakages.

 

Urinary incontinence is very common after delivery. The type and number of deliveries are considered major risk factors. In many cases, women do not seek appropriate treatment since urinary incontinence has become socially normalized after a certain age or as a consequence of delivery. However, supervised treatment with specific exercises can be helpful and at the same time healthy.

 

In recent years, hypopressive exercise has started to be applied in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunctions such as prolapse and incontinence. Although it is very popular, there is a limited body of evidence regarding it’s benefits. Additionally, there are very few references available regarding the best protocol for treating urinary incontinence with hypopressives. In this study, the authors suggested a new protocol which consisted of ten minutes of Level 1 LPF exercises practiced once a week over three weeks. After that, the session duration increased to fifteen minutes and was carried out twice a week. Lastly, in the last two weeks practice time was increased to twenty minutes twice a week.

 

After a seven-week intervention protocol based exclusively on hypopressives, urinary incontinence was again assessed. All cases showed improvements in both, the severity and quantity of the leakages. Two cases showed complete remission of urine leakages and all the women expressed great satisfaction with the program.

 

urinary-incontinence

 

The results of this study:

  1. Provide more data on the potential effectiveness of hypopressives for the conservative treatment of urinary incontinence.
  2. Lay the ground work for new experimental studies involving larger groups.

 

The fact that the sessions were short, supervised and progressively introduced to the patient could influence the desirable findings. The results of this study show us that a short protocol (10 to 20 minutes of hypopressives performed once to twice a week) can also be effective in reducing urinary incontinence in a case of multiparous women.

 

All the certified professionals of Low Pressure Fitness, experts in hypopressive exercise can be found in this link.

DIAPHRAGM STRETCHING TO IMPROVE THE POSTERIOR CHAIN MUSCLE KINEMATICS AND RIB CAGE EXCURSION

Stretching and self-massage of the diaphragm are main techniques of the Low Pressure Fitness training protocol. They are widely used by our LPF certified trainers for their initial sessions and by all LPF practitioners. The diaphragm stretching is an excellent breathing warm-up, which will increase chest mobility and also relieve myofascial tension of the respiratory chain.

Technique of diaphragm self-stretching

Technique of diaphragm self-stretching

A recent randomized controlled trial published in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy (2016), explored the effects of diaphragmatic stretching on diphragm and spine kinematics. Eighty healthy adults were divided into two experimental groups. Diaphragmatic stretching was applied to the first group, and a placebo treatment was given to the other (sham-ultrasound procedure). The stretching was applied for 5-7 minutes in first experimental group meanwhile the placebo group received sham ultrasounds applied with a powered-off machine.

 

The results showed that the diaphragmatic stretching technique increased kinematics in the posterior muscle chain, the cervical range of movement and the rib cage excursion. Contrarily, the placebo group showed no improvement in any of the analyzed outcomes.

Table of the study results

Table of the study results

Stretching and self-massage of the diaphragm are main techniques of the Low Pressure Fitness training protocol

 

Low Pressure Fitness applies this technique with the same procedure as described in the study. It is advisable to dedicate 5 to 8 minutes to stretch the diaphragm at the beginning of the session or during the preparatory phases of LPF. The technique should be always performed under the supervision of a certified profesional (LPF-CT). In the following video we can see the diaphragm stretching technique with myofascial balls:

The LPF training system incorporates a variety of evidence based breathing techniques such as: abdominal vacuum; latero-costal breathing;  forced exhalation, breath trainers and respiratory muscle stretching (diaphragm stretch, intercostal stretch). The results described by this study add more scientific knowledge about the the positive effects of the diaphragm stretching technique used in LPF on the rib cage excursion and posterior chain kinematics.

 

Whether you’re interested in learning  the LPF method for yourself or to teach it to others, our website offers you a variety of training courses for professionals and a full directory of certified professionals near your home.

 

Author:
Tamara Rial PhD

HYPOPRESSIVES FOR DIASTASIS RECTI RECOVERY DURING THE PUERPERIUM PERIOD

A clinical case on the effects of hypopressives for diastasis and waistline recovery in puerperium period has recently been published. The puerperium corresponds to the first week after giving birth. This is the first known case study in prescribing a protocol of hypopressive exercise right after delivery.

 

This case study involved two women (18 and 33 years) who had vaginal delivery. They presented a 3 cm diastasis recti immediately after delivery. Diastasis recti  is a condition in which the rectus abdominis muscle separates from the midline (above, below or at umbilical level). Any gap larger than 2 cm or 2 finger width is considered significant.

 

In this clinical case, the hypopressive training protocol was performed during the first 48 hours following delivery. This included four poses or hypopressive positions: 1. supine; 2. sitting; 3. standing; 4. standing with hip flexion. Each pose was repeated twice with an 8 second breath-hold for each repetition.

hypopressives-diastasis-recti

After this short intervention, both women showed a reduced abdominal diastasis of about 1 centimeter. Waist and thoracic circumferences also decreased. These results appear to be quite promising and offer a new approach for performing hypopressives in the early postpartum period. Previous research has shown many women still have abdominal diastasis one year after delivery. Specific therapeutic exercises and early initiation of treatment help to reduce the diastasis recti.

 

An early exercise intervention based on hypopressive exercise (during the first 48 hours after delivery) could be a key factor for diastasis recti recovery in healthy women who had a vaginal delivery. Some experts had previously suggested the benefits of hypopressives for postnatal recovery. However, it should be noted that this case study design lacks a control group. Additionally, we should interpret the results with caution due to the limited number of cases.

 

To learn more about hypopressives contact us in this link.

 

Author:
Dr. Tamara Rial

SHOULD I DO HYPOPRESSIVES DURING THE IMMEDIATE POSTPARTUM PERIOD?

Hypopressive exercise has been suggested as an alternative rehabilitation tool for abdominal and pelvic floor postnatal recovery. Nowadays, hypopressives are widely prescribed by health and fitness professionals during the postpartum period in many European countries. However, there is a lack of scientific literature about the optimal time to start a hypopressive program after delivery. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to address some of the common questions we receive at Low Pressure Fitness regarding this topic. Among the most frequent questions about postpartum and hypopressive training we highlight the following:

 

  • How soon after giving birth can I start my hypopressive training?
  • Can I do hypopressives if I am breastfeeding?
  • Can I do hypopressives if I had a c-section?hypopressives-postpartum

At present, there are no randomized controlled trials on the long-term effects of hypopressives during the postpartum period. Additionally, there are different opinions regarding the best time to start these exercises. Opinions vary from beginning immediately after delivery to waiting until the late postpartum period. Here we summarize opinions from different experts on this important topic.

 

What do professional associations say?

The puerperium corresponds to the period right after delivery. That is, the first week after giving birth. It extends from the first day to the tenth day after the baby is born. The late puerperium period includes day 11 through day 42. While the remote puerperium makes reference to day 43 onwards. The following period, generally called late postpartum, starts in week six or 40 days following birth (the famous quarantine). Of note, the postpartum period can last up to six to twelve months after giving birth.

 

The guidelines from the Spanish Association for Physical Therapy for the late postpartum period recommend starting hypopressive training six weeks after delivery. They state “abdominal exercising should always be hypopressive”. Regarding the puerperium (first 48 hours-first week), this association suggests that women should avoid traditional abdominal exercises and perform hypopressives.

hypopressives-postpartum

On the other hand, the Professional Guide for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Education in Pregnancy and Childbirth, coordinated by the Service for Assistance Coordination and Care, recommends hypopressive exercise only during the late postpartum period (from the sixth week onwards). The Ministry shares a similar view for Health and Social Services of the regional government of Cantabria (Spain). They state in their guidelines that women should perform hypopressive exercise during the postpartum period, specifically 30 to 45 days after delivery (the quarantine).

 

During the postpartum period, it is advisable to seek guidance and instruction from an exercise professional

 

Our Delivery emphasizes that once the quarantine is over, it is important to practice kegel exercises and hypopressives with the supervision of a physical therapist who can explain how to perform the exercises properly. Our Delivery also recommends Kegel and hypopressive exercise to women who had a cesarean section.

 

Tamara Rial, PhD, Director of Low Pressure Fitness, suggests that when there is no medical contraindication to exercise, hypopressive training can start after the quarantine (six weeks postpartum). However, in the case of surgical procedures such as a caesarean section, it is advisable to wait three months. It is also important to visit a health care provider after delivery and to check the pelvic floor prior to commencing a postnatal fitness program.

hypopressives-postpartum

During the postpartum period, it is advisable to seek guidance and instruction from an exercise professional who can adapt the program and address individual needs. To find a certified Low Pressure Fitness specialist visit our online directory.

 

Author:
Dr. Tamara Rial

MUSCLE RESPONSE DURING HYPOPRESSIVE EXERCISE: ASSESSMENT WITH TRANSABDOMINAL ULTRASOUND

The latest issue of the Journal Fisioterapia has just published a scientific article about the muscular response of the pelvic floor and abdomen during hypopressive exercise. The assessment was done with transabdominal ultrasound on women who were previously trained in this technique. The study was carried out by the women’s health research group of the University of Alcalá de Henares (Spain).

 

The results of this study show that the women were able to elevate their pelvic floor during the hypopressive exercise (transverse plane: 6.8 mm; sagittal plane: 4.6 mm). In addition, deep abdominal muscles also contracted during the hypopressive exercise. Of note, both results were obtained without a voluntary contraction. In other words, the musculature was able to contract and lift without asking the subjects to voluntarily tighten the belly or pelvic floor during the exercise. This muscular response is a result of the specific (and unique) postural and breathing action involved in the hypopressive technique. More specifically, there was an observable increase in thickness of the transverse (1.8 mm), the external oblique (1.5 mm) and the internal oblique abdominal muscles (0.5). These results are similar to those previously found with ultrasound by our Low Pressure Fitness research team:

 

Regarding the findings about pelvic floor elevation, observe the bladder lift during a proper hypopressive technique through ultrasound imaging in the following video:

 

 

Two points should be highlighted from this study. First, this study was carried out with women who had previously attended supervised physiotherapy for two months. Proper technique was taught to all participants. Indeed, learning the hypopressive technique requires both time and regular supervision from certified professionals. The results obtained from an observational study can differ drastically depending if the sample is trained or not, leading to bias or misinterpretation. Due to the ongoing learning process, a minumum adaptative period is required (between one to two months) until the hypopressive exercise is fully integrated.

 

Second, it should be noted that this study places a strong emphasis on proper lumbopelvic posture when performing the breath-holding maneuver. Neutral pelvis is a basic postural principle of Low Pressure Fitness. One of the most common errors when performing the hypopressive technique is to tilt the pelvis which can leads to an undesirable hypo- or hyperlordotic posture. This error could interfere with the response of the core muscles which can effect the results of the exercise protocol. This is the case of a previous study (Stupp et al. 2011) that did not include postural patterns or proper instruction in order to learn the hypopressive technique. Consequently, their findings should be interpreted with caution. Moreover, the description of the technique in the study by Stupp et al., (2011) differs substantially from the description in practical manuals.

 

Be sure that a certified LPF professional instructs and supervises proper pelvic and spinal postures during your hypopressive training. To learn how to teach hypopressives,  visit:  www.lowpressurefitness.com

 

Therefore, sufficient knowledge and adequate training should be a priority for coaches and trainers. The experience and dedication of our teaching staff is our highest guarantee for excellency in training. If you would like to learn the full effectiveness of hypopressives, Low Pressure Fitness, check out our online directory of certified professionals . In order to get your certification, do inquire about our training courses and receive full information today.

Autora:
Tamara Rial

HOW CAN LOW PRESSURE FITNESS BENEFIT PILATES?

In his first Law of Thermodynamics Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) said that matter can’t be created nor destroyed, it is only transformed. When a general law is properly stated, it will also apply to the specific. In our case, we are talking about physical exercise and recovery, where this rule certainly holds. After all, every new approach springs from the what our forebearers have said before, and in today’s fast paced world, fusion is the buzzword for any discipline.

 

In the following article we will understand how Low Pressure Fitness connects to Yoga and Pilates, emphasising the benefits of Low Pressure Fitness training. Many people practice the three or just two of them in a training combo, or else they practice them in succession, depending on their mood or the class timetables available. The three disciplines share common ground and differences in approach, focus and style.

 

Centuries after it was first developed, Yoga is still a relevant holistic training method, and after its advent in the fifties the same can be said for Pilates. More recently created, Low Pressure Fitness is a great new approach to exercise and wellness, with particular aims and features.

 

Yoga, Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness share a common goal, which can be broadly stated as regaining control of the body through awareness. They prioritise body alignment, breathing and postural fitness. Stacking the spine, engaging the core, inhaling and exhaling with control are classic cues we will find in the three disciplines. Low Pressure Fitness is a training program with an ecclectic outlook, stemming partly from Yoga and which was developed some decades after Pilates.

 

Neither of them require complex machinery or a specific place, but they might make use of simple accessories. Low Pressure Fitness includes certain props such as massage balls and wood-rollers, Pilates uses the well-known swiss ball and Yoga, elastic bands and blocks.

 

The main difference between Yoga and Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness is the spiritual component of Yoga, which the other two do not have. Yoga is generally more static than Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness. Yoga poses or assanas are held for as long as possible, excepting the continuous movement of vinyasa, a continuous flowing sequence which connects several poses, like the sun salutation (surianamaskara).

 

Pilates exercises are usually done in a specific order, one after another, and like Yoga, have colourful names to identify them, like the swan, the jack-knife or the criss-cross. They appear to be simple, but they require precision and strength. Strong emphasis is put on technique.

 

The connection between Low Pressure Fitness and Pilates is obvious, since both aim for a better management of intra-abdominal pressure. Scientific research also shows that one of the common benefits of Low Pressure Fitness and Pilates is the increase flexibility.

 

Both Pilates and Low Pressure Fitness consider local body awareness. Pilates will focus on specific areas of the body, especially the voluntary contraction of core muscles. Low Pressure Fitness will also provide the added value of another type of concentration and centralisation, which is the apnea, that activates the involuntary muscles in the pelvic floor.

 

Like Yoga and Pilates, Low Pressure Fitness belongs in the category of useful exercises to balance myofascial tensions, realign posture and improve breathing. Exercises are also sequenced from the simple to the complex, with a focus on the core muscles, the pelvic floor and breathing. Low Pressure Fitness exercises include the same patient and focused attitude as in Yoga and Pilates, but with one distinctive feature: permanent focus on decreasing pressure on pelvic area.

 

What is specific to Low Pressure Fitness is the breath-holding which allows for a wider range of motion. Exercise will often focus on working on the sagittal plane (right or left sides) of the body. As we can see in the pictures, these are probably the exercises which provide more improvements, but we also find more advanced postures targeting coronal plan and the three planes at the same time, with complete torsions of the upper body.

 

Unlike the traditional approaches to abdominal and pelvic floor exercise, which will focus on one segment of the core at a time, the Low Pressure Fitness program addresses the core to perform synergistically and as a whole.  

 

What are the benefits of Low Pressure Fitness?

 

Among its many benefits, Low Pressure Fitness is used by physiotherapists and trainers for:

  • pelvic floor restoration
  • trimming the waist-line
  • preventing and reducing back pain
  • enhancing breathing
  • posture and balance.

It is specifically focused for:

Myofascial release of the abdominal wall and diaphragm, resulting from Low Pressure Fitness are also well-acknowledged benefits of Low Pressure Fitness. The constant movement of the diaphragm in a Low Pressure Fitness session, promoted both by breathing and by the apneas produces a cooperation between the need for a longer range of motion and the abdominal response. Connective tissue loosens up and so does the abdomen.

 

How does Low Pressure Fitness work?

 

Low Pressure Fitness optimises the body posture by adjusting the neuromuscular connections between the autonomous nervous system and portions of the body lacking in alignment and relief. It prevents urinary incontinence by restoring muscular tone in the abdomen and the pelvic floor. It improves breathing patterns by enhancing movement in the torso and the diaphragm and it relieves back pain by promoting flexibility and a wider range of movement.

 

Low Pressure Fitness promotes axial lengthening and restoring the strength of the abdominal oblique and transverse muscles.

 

Since there is so much in common between the Low Pressure Fitness, Yoga and Pilates, it is also frequent to find contentious attitudes, with people trying to argue which of the three is better. We feel that it is not necessary to choose between either. An all-inclusive stance will allow us to reap the benefits of all of them. Just workout, enjoy be ecumenical and enjoy!

 

Hugo Loureiro
Low Pressure Fitness Portugal Coach and Pilates Personal Trainer (PT Studio)
Dr. Tamara Rial
Founder & Developer of Low Pressure Fitness

LOW PRESSURE FITNESS: THE NEW REVOLUTION FOR YOUR PELVIC FLOOR

In recent years, Low Pressure Fitness (LPF) has brought a revolution to the field of physical therapy as an smart alternative for pelvic floor training.

 

Traditionally, we have used pelvic floor muscle contractions known as Kegel exercises (Kegel, 1948) to improve the strength of the pelvic floor muscles focusing the attention on the active support system (musculature). Systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials in the general female population conclude that there is supporting evidence for the effectiveness of kegel exercises as a conservative treatment for pelvic floor dysfunctions such as stress urinary incontinence (Duomolin & Hay-Smith, 2010). Nevertheless, we also have to recognize the importance of the passive support system of the pelvic floor (connective tissue) because it is necessary to achieve  an optimal balance of miofascial tissue and elascicity of the pelvic structures. These factors will be decisive to keep in the pelvic floor functioning optimally.

 

pelvic-flloor-fitness

 

Low Pressure Fitness training could be a useful tool for improving both active and passive support systems. This program can easily be incorporated into a variety of approaches previously designed with the client’s goals in mind. Let’s learn a little bit more about how Low Pressure Fitness works.

 

The core or cylinder formed by the diaphragm (at the top), the pelvic floor (bottom) abdominal muscles (front) and lumbar (back) all work synergistically to create stability to the spine and for breathing mechanism. An imbalance or excessive tone in any of the points will have observable repercussions on the other parts of the cylinder. In this sense, the pelvic floor works in coordination and synergy with the breathing. Re-training the breathing patterns will improve our abdominal muscle stability, and at the same time will enhance the pelvic floor function. Low Pressure Fitness, is a postural and breathing program that retrains respiratory function through specific breathing exercises meanwhile rebalances posture muscles.

 

Some of this breathing exercises are done in association with the abdominal vacuum maneuver or rib cage lift. Consequently, the diaphragm rises and sucks up the pelvic viscera and fascial connections. This maneuver causes a decrease of intraabdominal pressure, and a stretch of vaginal connective tissue. This myofascial stretching also leads to an increase of pelvic peripheral vascularization. All, will bring better mobility to the pelvic area as a global body readjustment.

 

It has been found that 30% of women with some kind of pelvic dysfunction are incapable to contract their pelvic floor muscles. A recent study by Brazilian researchers (Latorre et al., 2013), found that Low Pressure Fitness techniques helped in the local proprioception of the pelvic floor. One of the main objectives for pelvic floor rehabilitation is to raise awareness of the pelvic floor and at the same time learn how to discriminate this from relaxation of the isolated muscular contractions,  An example of how Low Pressure Fitness can help in pelvic floor treatment is shown in the following video

 

We can see the big difference between performing only voluntary contractions and a voluntary contraction combined with the Low Pressure Fitness techniques while using a biofeedback device. The maximum voluntary contraction achieved is higher with Low Pressure Fitness than with kegel exercises alone. The combination of both methods is an excellent way to improve propioception and strength of the pelvic floor as connective tissue is streched.

 

In short, maintaining a good balance between the fascial connective tissue and muscular components will help prevent/rehabilitate pelvic floor disorders.

 

Author:
Tamara Rial, for DOOLAFIT.

PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR HIGH IMPACT TRAINING WITH LOW PRESSURE FITNESS

The  starting  point  for any  workout  should  begin with a pre-exercise evaluation  (assessment  of  cardiorespiratory  fitness,  muscular  fitness,  flexibility or body  composition) performed by an exercise specialist. A professional will ensure that the exercise program is safe and effective and consistent with each individuals needs and goals.

 

The Low Pressure Fitness system includes an assesment of core muscle function. This initial assessment will help you understand the health of the your abdominal muscles, and whether they are fit enough for their main functions: stabilization, movement and breathing.

 

In recent years, fitness centers are increasingly  focused on  high intensity workouts. This type of training can place excessive impact on core structures including the abdominal muscles, the spine and even the perineum.

 

Usually, when we sign up for a beginners class at a fitness center we do not ask ourselves if our core is prepared for the demands of high impact or high intensity exercise. The high price for quick results is often an injury or aggravation a previous pathology. That´s why a pre-exercise evaluation is essential to detect conditions that may  influence the design of an exercise or sport program.

 

 

After the initial assessment, one of the best ways to prepare your body for future higher intensity workouts is with Low Pressure Fitness. Through specific postural and breathing techniques, your body will decrease rigidity with observable  effects on the diaphragm and lumbar spine. Optimal muscle tone with no myofascial tension will allow your body to better manage intra-abdominal pressure which is crucial for supporting higher intensity training. There is a common misunderstanding regarding strength and tonicity: strong is not equal to tonicity You can have strong muscles but at the same time they can have high or even low tonicity. There is a widespread misconception about the importance of core muscle strength. It seems as if strength is the only relevant variable to achieve optimal physical condition.

 

The core helps to transfer the load of intra-abdominal pressure and body forces. When a link in the core chain is weak, the rest of the system will fail to function optimally. This is the case of many sportswomen who have high levels of general strength and fitness but a specific weakness in their core. In a previous article we address this topic. Another common ailment related to muscular weakness and imbalance of the core musculature is the sport hernia. Aggressive and inappropiate abdominal exercise programs can cause or a sports hernia. Low Pressure Fitness can be a safe alternative for beginners who need to restore the strength and function of their core muscles. Even if you are an athlete or fitness instructor who wants to perform high intensity training, you  can benefit from Low  Pressure  Fitness as part of your exercise program.

 

Eunice Moura

WHAT’S HIDDEN BEHIND ATHLETIC INCONTINENCE?

Let´s get real and take out of the closet the topic of urine leakage in women’s sport. Recently, wikipedia has introduce a new term to describe exercise-induced urinary incontinence, called Athletic Incontinence. It´s the specific form of stress urinary incontinence  stress urinary incontinence that results from engaging in high-impact or strenuous activities. Generally, it is thought to be the consequence of a decreased support system of the pelvic floor due to increased intra-abdominal pressure during high-impact exercise. It has become a condition too common in female athletes. It represents a huge problem related to the  quality of life of sufferers, but at the same time it´s socially invisible. Meanwhile, different types of incontinence effect a large proportion of american women and the prevalence is much higher for female exercisers of all ages!

 

If statistics state the problem, why we don´t talk about it?

 

There is a huge taboo around the topic so it´s still under-reported. One of the most common problems that female athletes face, during and after their sport career, is stress urinary incontinence. Unfortunaltely, the topic is rarely discussed by an athlete’s healthcare provider. Behind exercise-induced urinary leakage are hidden several consequences such as cultural taboos, embarrasment, lower self-steem, early sport drop or other related lumbo-pelvic issues. Is a threat to an athletes health and well-being since it may limit their participation in athletic activities. Enterprises, concious about the problem , sell the solution  in the form of “female exercise pads”. Sounds like a bad joke, but at the same time, they may be the only people aware of this secret.

Why athletic incontinence is so common?

 

A literature review about this topic (Goldstick & Constantini, 2014) states that the prevalance  ranges from 28 to 80%, with the highest prevalence in high-impact sportswomen such as trampolinists, gymnasts, aerobic gymnasts, hockey players and ballet dancers. Leakage is due to a failure of the pelvic floor system that is unable to overcome the increase of intra-abdominal pressure which occurs regularly during high-impact activities such as jumping, landing, running. Strenuous exercise may overload and weaken the pelvic floor muscles. There are several risk factors associated with this condition, notably pregnancy and childbirth. However, studies have shown about 25-30% of stress urinary incontinence occurs in young athletes with no obstetric past. These numbers are even higher in activities and sports that significantly increase intra-abdominal pressure such as the trampoline whereby athletes have the highest incidence (80%) of urinary loss (Eliasson, Larsson & Mattsson, 2002).

 

What other problems are related?

 

Recent studies confirm a relationship between low back pain and urinary incontinence. The highest prevalence of athletic incontinence, as mentioned before, has been shown  in high-impact sports like gymnastics. This sport includes activities such as jumping, landing, and running which  can also cause compression to the lumbar spine and result in nerve inflammation.

Eating disorders were also associated with higher prevalence of stress urinary incontinence. The lack of proper nutrition, hormonal changes, muscle weakness, and vomiting are possible causes that influence negatively the structural pelvic system.

 

How to prevent or treat it?

 

Just doing simple pelvic floor prevention exercises can help women stay dry. Pelvic floor muscle exercises should be the first-line of treatment and incorporated regularly into exercise and sport training programs.

Joinning a regular exercise program based on Low Pressure Fitness is the preferred method for pelvic and abdominal training for thousands of women around the world. In additon, this method has no side-effects and doesn´t need equipment. Low Pressure Fitness has demostrated to be an effective tool to decrease leakage symptoms in a randomized controlled trial done by Rial (2015). The satisfaction of practitioners is complete as shown in the following testimony of a female Spanish marathoner who experienced exercise urinary leakage:

 

“As an athlete I must say that Low Pressure Fitness for me has been a great benefit to my health, both in terms of improving my quality of life, sport and emotional.
I am 37 years old and love my job, as a physical trainer …. and in my free time I am a marathon runner. I run half marathons and races that goes from 40miles to 62miles. I have spent almost seven years running, and the small losses of urine will appeared in the fourth year. The loss starts in the first miles, where I feel like 4 drops fall and it´s very uncomfortable. Since I started doing Low Pressure Fitness every morning these small daily losses have disappeared. The Low Pressure Fitness for me have been my best medicine, I practice them every morning and then I repeat in the afternoon.
Thank you to all the people who are researching low pressure fitness!”

Anna
Madrid, Spain