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What is Low Pressure Fitness

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Low Pressure Fitness has changed my life and the way I view pregnancy and postpartum core training! Low pressure fitness is a type of core training that uses posture and breath, to involuntarily strengthen the deep core stabilizing system, including the pelvic floor muscles.

Low Pressure Fitness Photo

What is low pressure fitness?

Low pressure fitness is a whole-body training approach, with emphasis on pressure management, in order to safely regain core strength while avoiding an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. Low pressure fitness uses the HYPO-pressive technique to maximize the pressure-less effect (4). The hypopressive maneuver creates a suction effect, which draws the pelvic organs up, involuntarily engages the pelvic floor muscles, and relieves pressure going down through the pelvic cavity.

Defining these terms:

  • intra-abdominal pressure: this is the pressure inside the abdominal cavity
  • hypopressive: hypo=below normal; pressive= pressure (so below normal pressure)
Low pressure fitness concept
  1. The drawing on the far left is what poor standing posture could look like:
    • Forward head, rounded shoulders, poorly engaged core
  2. The middle drawing is the postural correction with hypopressive (drawing in of the abdomen through the hypopressive technique), and elongation of the spine.
  3. The far right is a drawing of the maintenance of posture following low pressure fitness training

This image was taken from the Low Pressure Fitness Manual (4).

What is the hypopressive technique?

The hypopressive technique uses negative pressure to lift the pelvic organs up, while involuntarily engaging the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor muscles. This is not a “sucking in” of the stomach, but rather uses a flaring of the rib cage simultaneously with closure of the nose and mouth (glottis) with the breath held.

This technique is incorporated throughout the flow of a low pressure fitness work out in order to train the deepest core stabilizers, while simultaneously lifting the pelvic organs up. This is great for postpartum recovery, as pregnancy causes weakening of the core muscles and downward pressure through our abdominal cavity and pelvic floor.

My postpartum progress

The photo on the left was taken 6 weeks postpartum. The photo on the right was taken 10 months postpartum. This was with pretty infrequent training, maybe 1 flow a week. My apnea has improved, waist circumference is smaller, and my tone in my arms is more pronounced.

Ways low pressure fitness helps postpartum recovery:

  1. improved posture, which automatically engages the pelvic floor
  2. lifting of abdominal organs: uterus, bladder, rectum (great for prolapse)
  3. centering of the uterus
  4. improved diastasi recti (needed for optimal core strength)
  5. regaining continence of bowel and bladder
  6. involuntary activation of the deep core stabilizing system for functional stability
  7. neural mobilization which can help with neural tension that can be associated with breastfeeding postures

Who is Low pressure fitness for?

Really anyone can benefit from this training, as we all need our core to work functionally and effectively. Common conditions that can be significantly improved with low pressure fitness training are:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Diastasis Recti
  • Postpartum core and pelvic floor muscle weakness
  • Postural alignment
  • Sport Performance
  • Reduced waist circumference
  • Bloating/digestion
  • Chronic Low back pain
  • SI joint dysfunction

How is low pressure different from other forms of core strengthening?

Low pressure fitness focuses on involuntarily strengthening the deep core and pelvic stabilizing muscles without the increase in intra-abdominal pressure that tends to happen with conventional core strengthening exercises, such as:

  • Crunches
  • Sit ups
  • Bicycle (knee to opposite elbow)
  • Double Leg Lifts
  • Scissor (fluttering of the legs or crossing of the legs while lifted)
  • And any other abdominal exercise that raises the head (or bilateral legs) up, creating an increased in intra-abdominal pressure.

While these exercises are really great strengthening exercises for the abdominal muscles and even give us that “burn” we are looking for, the negative effects may outweigh those positives at times, especially during the postpartum period, where our pelvic floor muscles may not be quite yet ready to counter the pressure from above!

I emphasize the word, involuntary, because the involuntary activation of our deep core stabilizing system is what is needed for optimal function in our daily activities. This involuntary activation is what is required from our pelvic floor muscles to counter pressures from above and prevent or improve common symptoms of incontinence and prolapse. The activation needs to be involuntary, meaning it happens without us having to think about it!

Low Pressure Fitness vs Kegals

“Kegals,” or a pelvic floor contraction, are a great way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When one does a kegal, this is a voluntary activation of the pelvic floor muscles. This is important to be able to do, as you can use kegals to help control a very strong urge and prevent urinary leakage, BUT, it is also just as important, if not more important, to train your core, including your pelvic floor muscles, to fire involuntarily. This involuntary activation, which happens without you thinking about it, is crucial for functional stability and optimal core strength!

Why is this important?

Low pressure fitness is really great for anyone! Posture is so important. Just by correcting our posture, we can better engage our core, decompress the spine, improve our breath, and relieve pressure down through the abdominal cavity.

This is crucial, especially for postpartum moms. Our bodies go through so much during and after pregnancy. The pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy by the weight of the growing baby, the effects of hormones, and by stretching and trauma sustained during vaginal delivery (1). Research has found that up to 50% of women have pelvic organ prolapse (2), and 53% report some type of urinary incontinence (3). That means that 1 in every 2 women could have such symptoms, and sometimes certain general strengthening exercises we do to get better can actually be making matters worse. Research has found a wide range of abdominal pressure during a basic curl up exercise, which means that some women may be ok, but others could be creating significant pressure down through their pelvic floor, which only causes worsening of their symptoms from prolapse or incontinence.

I just had a baby, when can i start low pressure fitness?

Right away! That is what is really great about low pressure fitness: it is safe and good for your body and essential for postpartum core recovery! Retraining our breath and posture is so healing for the changes that occur during pregnancy and labor!

Can i do low pressure fitness training during pregnancy?

Yes! However, avoid the apnea (abdominal vacuum) part! Go through the flow, focusing on posture and breath, but it is advised and best to not do any breath holding during pregnancy.

My Low pressure fitness Journey

A couple of years ago I discovered Low Pressure Fitness, and have now completed my 3 levels of this training. I have found it to be the best addition to the clinical knowledge I had gained in my 14 years of practice. I also feel stronger and more aligned myself, after doing low pressure fitness and hypopressives following my most recent pregnancy. I feel great after doing a flow, and I often pick just a few postures for a shorter, post workout or spinal decompression routine.

Try this level 1 flow: https://ariseptandwellness.com/low-pressure-fitness-level-1-post-workout-flow/

Or this great routine for period related low back pain (or any cause of low back pain):

IN SUMMARY:

Low pressure fitness is a great training system for postpartum recovery, as it focuses on regaining strength in the deepest core stabilizing muscles, including the pelvic floor, without an increase in pressure through the abdominal cavity. This produces the optimal environment for postpartum healing and optimal posture and strength.

If you are interested in beginning your low pressure fitness journey with me with low pressure fitness training, please reach out or subscribe below!

References:

  1. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjom.2010.18.1.45817
  2. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/797295-overview#:~:text=The%20frequency%20of%20uterine%20prolapse,10%2D20%25%20are%20symptomatic.
  3. https://www.auajournals.org/doi/10.1097/JU.0000000000001634
  4. Low pressure fitness manual by Tamara Rial

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Low Pressure Fitness

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