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  • Writer's pictureJo

The Importance of Strengthening Your Core and Pelvic Floor Together; Core connection Breath

Updated: Jan 15

You are going to hear a lot about the 'core connection breath' with Jo's training. It is a foundational requirement when exercising or in fact doing any movement in your daily life to support and protect your core and pelvic floor function

​Watch the video below on how to do your core connection breath. With a little bit of focus and practice it will become something you do without thinking in your training and in your functional daily life.

Pelvic floor muscle function is affected by numerous phases of a ladies life; pregnancy, birth, ageing, nutrition, stress, hormones and exercise just to name a few.

pelvic floor cross-section
Pelvic floor cross-section

The pelvic floor muscles are the group of muscles and connective tissues that lie within your pelvis that support your internal organs; bladder, uterus and bowel. This means stop these organs literally falling out of your body and they contract/relax appropriately to control your toileting habits.

Dysfunction (due to damage from pregnancy, birth, abdominal surgery etc) of these muscles is common but it is not normal. Pelvic floor dysfunction may lead to poor control of toileting habits or reduced ability to maintain organs within their appropriate places. ie prolapse.

Pelvic floor muscle function is affected by a variety of movements throughout the body, your pelvic floor muscles are part of your ‘core system’. They may respond differently when loads are placed on the body in different way, ie lifting something heavy, lifting or holding your baby or pram. Changes in pressure just during breathing patterns effect's your pelvic floor also, ie breathing in, flattens the diaphragm breathing muscle at the top of your stomach pushing it down which increases the pressure in the abdomen causing pressure to be placed on the pelvic floor muscles.

The effect and relationship between breathing and your core and pelvic floor function
Core connection relationship

General activity is a constant activator of pelvic floor muscles which is a good thing as it is activating muscles which always helps strengthen any muscle.

During pregnancy, learning to integrate your pelvic floor exercises into your full body exercises and daily movement is even more effective than isolated pelvic floor exercises, however ensuring your are doing these exercises correctly is often half the battle. In the lead up to labour and birth, hip and full body mobility and pelvic floor relaxation is key to helping ensure your labour progresses easier and the risk of intervention and birth injuries are reduced. Learn how to do this with my exciting and new Birth Prep Program here.

After birth regular and consistent pelvic floor exercises should be done to support your recovery and rehabilitation (even if you have had a c-section). It is important you are doing your pelvic floor muscle activations correctly and it is just as important that you are able to relax your pelvic floor muscles between each contraction. Follow my online Re-energised Postnatal Recovery Program for a comprehensive guide for your recovery after Pregnancy and birth.

I recommend everyone perform three sets of eight to ten core connections daily following these steps during pregnancy and after birth, this may need to be forever (provided this isn't making your symptoms worse, you may be having symptoms of a hypertonic/tight pelvic floor if so):

  1. Lie on the floor (on your back or side) with your body in neutral alignment with your shoulders and ribs stacked in line with your hips. Position your pelvis in neutral alignment, not tilted to far forward or back at the top with your knees bent.

  2. Focus on your breathing next, place one hand on the base of your ribs and the other on your lower stomach, breath into your hands imagine you are inflating into your hands and right down into your pelvic floor. (Relaxing your pelvic floor muscles is just as important as being able to effectively contract them, without leaking). Focus on inflating and deflating for a few breaths ensuring you are breathing into the front, sides and back of your core in a 360 degree manner. (If you are over 35 weeks pregnant only go as far as this step, no pelvic floor activations, you need to learn to relax you pelvic floor remember, more guidance here)

  3. Now on the exhale breath pick up your pelvic floor, imagine you are stopping yourself from going to the toilet, stopping a fart then stopping a wee. Practise inhaling and inflating your core, all the way down to relaxing your pelvic floor, then exhaling and gently contracting your pelvic floor. Other cues to contract your pelvic floor maybe: imagine picking up a tissue or raison with your vagina, or holding in a tampon, bring in the points of your pelvic floor like a diamond, sucking up a straw with your vagina/pelvic floor, imagine the movement of a jellyfish up and down as it swims.

By incorporating effective breathing techniques into your movements, training or exercise, less pressure will be placed on your pelvic floor therefore reducing the risk of dysfunction or helping to heal any dysfunctions.

Furthermore to complete your connection breath, add in the contraction of your deep transverse abdominal muscles with your contraction of your pelvic floor:

  1. Place your index and middle fingers together just above your hip bones and gently feel deep into your core. On your exhale breath you are going to contract your deep core muscles (transverse abdominals), to do this imagine you have a line of string between your hip bones and you are going to tighten the tension on that line and GENTLY pull up towards your belly button. You shouldn’t see any major movement from the outside and you should be able to feel a tension deep in your lower core under your fingers. We want your upper core to be relaxed.

This completes how to do a core connection breath and is the foundation on which to build most loaded movements or exercises on to best support your core and pelvic floor for optimal functioning for the rest of your life.

Join my online Pregnancy or Postnatal Recovery programs to safely and effectively train your body through these times and beyond, there are many considerations to be aware of to ensure your exercise is safe during such a significant time in your life. If you have had a c-section, you should also consider scar tissue massage to improve your core and pelvic floor function.

I'll leave you with this exercise, all ladies, pregnant, early postnatal and beyond included can try this extra pelvic floor strengthening exercise. (Exceptions: if your symptoms get worse with this you may have tight and over active pelvic floor muscles, you need to learn to relax and let go, a new blog on this coming soo. Likewise if you are over 35 weeks pregnant, this is still a great pelvic floor exercise but you also need to focus more on releasing your pelvic floor muscles).


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