Pelvic Floor/Diaphragm: After Pregnancy, Rehab, Athletics

Hello all!

I had a client the other day look at me a little doubtful when I asked her to jump rope.  I said, “Jane” (we’ll call her “Jane”)….”Jane, what’s up?”

She explained it to me.  Well, we hadn’t jumped rope in a while.  She had a baby about 6 mos prior.   We had trained through her pregnancy.  We had done a bit of core training based on the principles that we had started out with before her pregnancy.  The basics of which are the subject of this article.  She felt less than confident in her ability to avoid urinary leakage as she bounced up and down.

Ahhhh, I said.  We need to get back to the basics.  In order to properly create spinal stability for athletics and rehab, one must first learn to ‘engage the core’.  This means neuromuscularly integrating the deep stabilizers of your pelvis and lumbar spine.  The muscles that we are focusing on today are the ones on the bottom (the muscles of the pelvic floor) and on the top (the diaphragm) of what we refer to as our “core box”.

There is a combination of three different techniques that my clients learn as they first begin training so that they may avoid back and hip pain later on.  They have can have an immediate effect on incontinence for women in Jane’s situation (or otherwise), strength in lifting, speed for running, and power in punching (one of these is a martial arts technique).

1)  Our first exercise is the Kegel.  Many of you ladies have heard of this one.

First, lie on the floor like the skeleton below. Then, think of needing to go to the bathroom pretty bad…both #1 and 2.  Then think of the muscles used to hold this off.  Squeeze those as hard as you can along with your glutes.  Push into a posterior pelvic tilt as the top pic shows.  Go for 5-10 squeezes.  Go into the advanced bridge from the second pic to advance.

2)  Our next exercise I like to call Jagermeisters.  Have you ever had a bit too much Jager and ended up spending a little time worshiping the porcelain king?  How did your core feel the next day?  This mimics that muscular contraction.

Look at the top pic of the two below.  Inhale into this position as much air as possible.  Breath into your belly button.

Look at the bottom pic.  As you are moving from the top pic position to the bottom pic position, exhale forcing every last bit of breath you have out at the top.  When you reach the position in the bottom pic, feel beneath your belly button squeezing.  Do 5-10 of these.

3)  This is our martial arts technique.

Stand.  Put your tongue at the roof of your mouth in back of your teeth.  Force your breath out while squeezing the muscles from the other two exercises.  This should make a sound like tttzzzz!  Squeeze your fists as well.  This will increase the integration of all muscles involved.  Do 10-20.

Now you may start a regular “core” training routine, deadlifts, squats, or fight training.  Training the above way is a great start and will help safety and foundational strength later on.  After a few weeks the squeeze should be automatic in all your exercise.  See even how your running feels more efficient.

For Jane, we did 5 sets of 100 jumps jumping rope with 1 set of this circuit in between each set of jumps.  She was extremely pleased when soon she was very confident in jumping rope….or laughing, sneezing, coughing, etc.

For you nerds, here’s some research, anatomy, and other fun.