Two Tips To Stop Pelvic Floor Leaks

Two Tips To Stop Pelvic Floor Leaks

As moms, it has become normal to joke about peeing our pants. I get it.  We use humor when talking about difficult topics.

While incontinence may be common in postpartum women, it is not normal. In fact, leaking is a sign of dysfunction in the core/pelvic floor system.

Today I’ve got two tips to share for those of you struggling with leaking. These are actions you can take right now to work on improving this.

Tip #1: Find Pelvic Floor Balance 

First, a little anatomy. Your pelvic floor is a huge set of muscles that connect from the pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, to the tailbone at the back of your pelvis. We should be able to engage the entire set of muscles. But, often, women who leak are instructed to “do more kegels” by just squeezing the muscles that shut off the flow of urine. That cue engages only a small portion of the pelvic floor muscles.

 You want to make sure you are engaging the entirety of your pelvic floor – both the front and back. We do this by playing with our pelvis positioning.

To test out your balance, try this. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.

 

 

 

1. First, engage the muscles at the front of the pelvic floor.

a) Tilt your hip bones forward to move your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt position.

b) Then engage your pelvic floor by squeezing the muscles that shut off the flow of urine.

c) Try to hold that engagement for 10 seconds and observe what happens.

2. Then engage the muscles at the back of the pelvic floor.

a) Tilt your hip bones back and tuck your pelvis under you (Posterior Pelvic Tilt Position).  

b) Now engage the back of your pelvic floor by squeezing the muscles that shut off the flow of gas.

c) Again try and hold that engagement for 10 seconds. 

 

 

3. Now engage the entire pelvic floor.

a) Bring your pelvis back to a neutral position (sitting on your sit bones)

b)Now engage the entire pelvic floor by engaging the muscles that shut off the flow of urine AND the muscles that shut off the flow of gas.

c) Now you have all your pelvic floor muscles firing. What happens when you try to hold for 10 seconds? 

While doing this, ask yourself: how is your balance? Does one part feel stronger or weaker? If so, you would benefit from creating balance in those muscles.

You might be asking…but what does this have to do with leaking?

The muscles that are responsible for holding urine are in the front of your pelvis.

By positioning your upper body in a slightly forward position, you encourage the muscles at the front of the pelvic floor to engage more readily…which helps prevent leaking! (Watch the video above for a clear visual of how this works!)

Tip #2: Work the Fast and Slow Twitch Muscles  

So now that we’ve got the body positioned to help these muscles fire more efficiently, the second step is to work both muscle types. Your pelvic floor has two types of muscles, fast-twitch and slow-twitch.

The slow-twitch muscles help hold your internal organs in. They are designed for holding a low level of engagement over a long period of time. When you hold a kegel for 10 seconds, you are engaging your slow-twitch muscles. If they are weak, you may find them getting shaky as you hold them. However, these are NOT the muscles that stop the flow of urine.

Fast twitch muscles turn on with sudden demand (like when you sneeze or hit the ground in a jumping jack). These are the primary muscles that help you prevent leaking. These muscles engage quickly, for just a moment, and then they relax.  

For this reason, it’s important that your pelvic floor training works both types of muscles. You want to engage your pelvic floor with long holds (e.g. 10 seconds) and multiple reps of quick pulses (squeeze, release, squeeze, release). This will train your pelvic floor to respond to the demands of daily life and those sudden moments of intense pressure (like a sneeze).

The unpleasant leaking that many moms experience does not have to be a fact of life. Body positioning AND training both fast- and slow-twitch muscles can help reduce leaking once and for all.

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

3 Little Known Tips To Heal Your Core With Yoga

3 Little Known Tips To Heal Your Core With Yoga

“Dia-what?”
One of the top yoga instructors in my city said this after I told her about the Heal Your Core With Yoga program.

She trains hundreds of new yoga teachers each year. And she’s never heard of diastasis recti.

I’m not surprised. Diastasis Recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles caused by a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue during pregnancy, isn’t covered in most yoga teacher trainings. But it should be. While many yoga poses are extremely beneficial for a diastasis, certain poses and breath techniques prevent a separation from healing. And possibly make it worse.

I’ve spent the past four years researching how to diastasis-proof a yoga practice. In that time I’ve learned there’s very little information available about practicing yoga with a diastasis. Let’s change that right now!

3 Little Known Tips For Healing Your Core With Yoga:

1. Rib Breathe Instead Of Belly Breathe.

When you breathe deep into your belly, you increase the pressure inside your abdomen. In individuals with a diastasis, increased pressure strains your already-compromised core.

The long-term result of continued deep belly breaths? Your diastasis can’t heal.

Luckily, there’s a safer alternative. Rib breathing.

In rib breathing, you expand the ribcage left to right. This increases the pressure in the thoracic (chest) cavity rather than the abdomen. The result? A deep breath without straining the core.

Bonus: Rib breathing also helps coordinate the actions of the diaphragm and pelvic floor. If you struggle with incontinence or organ prolapse, rib breathing is the way to go.

2. Proper Alignment Is EVERYTHING.

Yes, the immediate cause of your diastasis was most likely a pregnancy. But your ongoing alignment patterns are the reason it hasn’t healed.

Misalignment in the body increases pressure in the abdomen, and strains your weakened core.

If you are like most humans, you spend the vast majority of your days sitting at your desk, driving your car, and watching Netflix. This results in a body alignment that looks like this…

Tight hips and weak gluteal muscles tuck your tailbone under and push your hips forward of your heels. This lower body alignment pushes your whole body forward. To stay upright, you have to thrust your ribs up and out and throw your shoulders back.

This reduces the space in the abdomen and increases pressure in your core.

More pressure means more strain on your already weakened core.

3 quick alignment fixes correct your alignment, limit the strain on your core, and encourage the core to heal:

  • Move your hips over your heels
  • Untuck your pelvis, and
  • Drop your ribs to keep them from thrusting forward.

With these adjustments, your body returns to neutral alignment. Your shoulders, hip bones, and ankles line up. And, most importantly, your abdomen has lots and lots of space.

Lots of space = Low pressure = No strain on your diastasis.

(P.S. This is what our alignment would look like if we spent our time walking, squatting, and foraging).

This alignment takes practice and yoga is one of THE BEST ways to practice. Begin by creating these alignment patterns on your yoga mat. Then incorporate the principles into activities like brushing your teeth, and picking up toys. The more time you spend in good alignment, the more opportunity your body has to heal.

3. Stay Away From Certain Yoga Poses (For A Little While At Least)

A diastasis is characterized by a weak linea alba (the connective tissue between the two sides of the abdominals). Poses that create extreme stretching of the abdomen, and poses that create large amounts of pressure in the abdomen, prevent this connective tissue from healing.

3 POSE TYPES TO AVOID WHILE HEALING:

Big Backbends (Main Issue: Excess Stretching)

Poses like bow, upward facing dog, and wheel. These poses ask the front of the body to stretch in a big way. This pulls on the linea alba, keeps it weak and thin and prevents it from healing.

Traditional Core Strengtheners: (Main Issue: Excess Pressure)

Poses like plank, boat, and crunches. These force the core muscles to engage in a way that increases the pressure in the abdomen. This increased pressure pushes on the weak connective tissue and keeps it from healing. In some cases it can cause even more damage.

Leveraged Twists: (Main Issues: Excess Stretching, Excess Pressure)

Poses that use your arms to twist deeper like utkatasana twist and crescent lunge twist. These give the core a double whammy. The asymmetry of the pose stretches the connective tissue. The twisting of the abdomen increases pressure. You strain the core while stretching it. That’s a surefire way to keep that diastasis around for the long haul.

If you’re feeling like I’ve just eliminated your entire yoga practice, I promise, I haven’t!! There are tons of yoga poses available to you that provide similar benefits while promoting healing of your core. And once you strengthen your deep core muscles, you can do these poses again. I promise!

With the right poses and good alignment, yoga is a powerful tool to heal abdominal separation. 

 

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Yoga And Diastasis Recti

3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Yoga And Diastasis Recti

I knew it in my heart before I knew it in my mind. Yoga is hurting me.

I was so excited to begin practicing again at 8 weeks postpartum. I’d spent 10 months modifying for pregnancy, and 8 weeks healing from my daughter’s beautiful, painful birth. The idea of moving again thrilled me.

And move I did. Nothing crazy. My body was still mending. A simple, straightforward flow of basic yoga postures. Sun salutations to get the blood moving. Twists to move energy through my spine. Gentle backbends to open up my heart which, despite being so full of love for my daughter, was completely closed off from the endless hours of nursing.

Little did I know, these “simple” poses were hurting more than healing.

After the first session, it was easy to dismiss the physical signs that something was wrong. The twinge in my low back. The feeling that things were even more discombobulated “down there” than when I started.

I’d just had a baby, after all. I didn’t expect it to feel perfect.  

But I continued to dismiss those signs for months. I couldn’t believe that my beloved yoga practice could hurt me. For someone who’s spent much of her life listening to her body on a yoga mat, I was surprisingly good at ignoring my body’s whispers.  

But just like a toddler you ignore, those whispers eventually became a yell.

It hit me at 6 months postpartum. Half a year after I’d delivered my baby, I was suffering more than I had in the weeks after delivery.  

  • My pelvic floor was still injured and, often, very uncomfortable.
  • My back hurt around the clock, not just after a yoga practice.
  • I felt like a limp noodle and found myself slumping nonstop. I had no support when sitting or standing.  

 

I started consuming everything I could about the postpartum body.

The lightbulb went off when I learned about diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles, caused by a stretching and thinning of the connective tissue during pregnancy.

It’s associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, back pain, incontinence, and even hip issues.

Almost all pregnant women get a diastasis. For a lucky few, the separation closes soon after birth. For many others, the separation remains, and they have an ongoing diastasis.

A quick self-check (thanks, YouTube!) confirmed it-I had one. The more I learned, the more I realized my “simple” yoga postures were preventing my separation from healing. And possibly making it worse.

So I began the most important yoga education of my life. I could fill a book with what I’ve learned about this topic, but I’ll start with the 3 things I wish I’d known when I started my postpartum yoga practice.

The 3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started A Postpartum Yoga Practice

 

1. When you are cleared for exercise at 6 weeks, you should be very intentional about the exercises you choose.

Odds are, you still have an abdominal separation. Jumping into crunches, planks, and trying to “get your body back” is a surefire way to make a diastasis worse. It takes 10 months for your abdominals to separate, it takes way more than 6 weeks for them to heal.

 

2.You should avoid certain yoga poses and every day movements if you have a diastasis.

They strain your weak core and prevent healing. Can you still have a full, well-rounded, practice? ABSOLUTELY. Can you eventually return to those yoga poses? YES. Once your core heals.

 

3. All yogic breathing is not created equally.

Taking breath deep into your belly contributes to diastasis. Other breathing methods can help close a separation.

When my second child was born, my healing was completely different. I had zero back pain, almost no pelvic floor issues, and never ever felt like a limp noodle. Why? Because when I started my yoga practice at 6 weeks postpartum, I knew how to create stability, heal my pelvic floor, and aid my diastasis in closing.  

This time, when I stepped onto my mat, I knew it in my heart and mind. Yoga is healing me.

Wondering if you have a diastasis? Try this self-test.

If you’re looking for more information on how to use yoga to help heal your diastasis, join me in my free online yoga and diastasis masterclass. Click below to learn more and save your spot.

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!