And Breathe….

And Breathe…

Breathing is one of the fundamental functions our body needs to perform in order for us to live. This process, also called respiration, is driven by a muscle called the diaphragm. This dome shaped muscle located beneath our lungs contracts and relaxes helping pull air into and out of the lungs.

But, did you know it also has a strong link to pelvic floor function? The diaphragm, core and pelvic floor muscles work together under a pressure relationship. Take a look at this moving visual from Burrell Education which beautifully demonstrates this.

link between diaphragm and pelvic floor

How It Works

When the diaphragm descends (we breathe in) the pelvic floor also descends and when the diaphragm lifts (we exhale) so to does the pelvic floor. It also has an effect on the abdominal wall. You can try this for yourself.

Lie down on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. For approximately 1-2 minutes just focus on a deep breath in, letting your tummy soften and then have a long breath out. Close your eyes whilst you do this and concentrate on the sensations you can feel in and around your tummy, lower back and pelvic floor. Pay particular attention on the ‘out breath’.

This is something I use when assessing pelvic floor and core function on ladies who come to see me when they require help with either of these areas. If you feel no connection there may be a few reasons for this.

What Can Disrupt the Diaphragm’s Function?

  • excessive coughing – smokers, those with frequent colds/coughs, asthmatics
  • repetitive vomiting – especially after a stomach virus
  • constipation or abdominal bloating
  • lifting heavy objects and breath holding
  • pregnancy – growing baby reduces the space in the abdomen
  • obesity
  • poor posture – being hunched over reduces the space for us to breathe effectively. Try taking a breath whilst shoulders are slumped forwards.

The diaphragm is like any other muscle and needs to be able to contract and relax through its full range of motion. When disrupted by one of the above factors and over a long period of time it will eventually adapt and lose its ability to work effectively. Even simply having tight intercostal muscles and restrictions through the back can affect the amount of breath you can take in. Ladies who have had abdominal surgery or any surgery within their torso, may find breathing difficult due to restrictions from scar tissue within the abdominal wall or in the back.

Not All Is Lost

Here are a few simple things that can help –

1.  Stop Smoking

2. Eat Well – ensuring you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals means we should be able to keep coughs and colds at bay. Having sufficient fibre in your diet will also ensure that you are less constipated. Avoiding processed foods will help here to along with reducing bloating.

3. Keep hydrated – being dehydrated will lead to harder stools and constipation. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and this will reduce the chances of this occurring.

4. Check your breathing – when lifting, its quite common for people to hold their breath. This places an outward and downward pressure disrupting the core and pelvic floor and potentially weakening it. We should be looking to ‘exhale on exertion’ instead, something that I cover in my Holistic Core Restore® courses.

5. Massage therapy – a specialist in abdominal soft tissue therapy will be able to find spots within the abdominal wall and ribcage and help release them allowing for much greater and smoother breaths to occur. Massage Therapy.

6. Stretches and mobilisations for the trunk – this can help free up stuck areas and therefore provide space to breathe. I have a short video showing some releases I use with clients that would be useful to you. This will be available on my social media channels after the 23/6/20. Links to both my Facebook page and Instagram page are below:

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The Virtual World – Our New Reality

The Virtual World – Our New Reality

A few months ago, technology for some people was one of those things you could decide to embrace or not. ‘Take it or leave it’ as they say. My parents are amongst those group of people. No smart phones, no internet connection, can only just about manage the Sky remote control. But boy oh boy this pandemic really smacked us in the face and made us appreciate technology and its ability to connect us with the rest of the world.

Across the planet people were strongly advised to ‘stay at home, to help slow the spread of the virus, protect their respective health services and therefore save lives’. That meant no longer being able to meet up with friends and family. If you wanted to stay in touch, see and speak to your loved ones you needed to dial up, Zoom or Skype. Hand ups? Who had actually heard of Zoom or Houseparty or any other chat room prior to the lockdown? I definitely hadn’t heard of Houseparty but now have the app sitting merrily alongside all my other apps on my smartphone.

To think that 10 years ago we didn’t really have the video calling / live streaming technology we have now. There was Skype but that was about it. Zoom was launched in 2013 and Facebook didn’t introduce their ‘live’ capability until 2016! Can you imagine how things would have been if we had been hit with this virus back in 2010? This technology is proving very popular, very useful and very necessary. And I feel it is set to stay for a while yet!

Virtual Fitness World

This pandemic has completely shaken up the fitness world. Before gyms, studios, sports halls and outdoor fitness facilities were shut down, everyone was happily doing their thing, blissfully unaware of how this virus was going to affect them. Heading to classes, diligently going through routines either by themselves or with a trainer, meeting up with friends for a game of tennis or squash, or maybe heading out to have a kick around in the local park. This was all swept out from underneath our feet within a matter of 24 hours. People needed a new way of staying active BUT what if you didn’t own a bike or running wasn’t your thing?

Instead, we turned to PE with Joe! Overnight, the demand for online workouts rocketed, and the sales of home fitness equipment grew by 170% according to ReasearchandMarket.com. You just couldn’t get your hands on dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells! People’s garages or living rooms turned into make shift home gyms.

As a personal trainer I had to think on my feet and fast! My whole 20 year career I had only ever worked face to face, never virtually. And I had only just opened my brand new studio, now sitting empty with no clients being able to train in it. I had to change my approach, learn new skills and adapt my way of working. I had intended to work virtually at some point but the time needed to be now!

So, I went and purchased the Facebook Portal and signed up for a free Zoom account. I can’t even tell you how many workouts I have filmed, edited and placed on the video hosting site Vimeo. But, the main thing is it has worked! Not just for me, but for my clients and those who have taken part in the courses initially intended for face to face contact.

And, crucially I’ve enjoyed it! Clients have loved it to! They have been able to continue on with their training, had a bespoke program written for them and have me watch over them.

Heading Back to the Gym?

It will be interesting to see how many people will return to gyms once they are allowed to open back up. Here is a list of how gyms may be operating when they can re-open:

  • having to book a slot to visit the gym so that people can adhere to the 2m social distancing rules in the changing rooms, classes, swimming pool and on the gym floor
  • less capacity in classes so as to ensure social distancing
  • times of classes changing or being removed entirely so that cleaning of studios can take place in between.
  • greeting your reception team and bar staff behind a screen
  • no socialising after your workout or class
  • no childcare facilities

This new way of operating may not be feasible for some or just not appeal. Yes, there will be the welcome return of face to face contact however it won’t be the same as before and may not be for a while. And whose to say this won’t happen again! A second peak has not been ruled out and even if we do thankfully avoid one we should not get complacent. In my lifetime there may well be another pandemic. Everyone should be prepared. This virtual world may just be our new reality.

Online Services Available With Bumps Lumps and Star Jumps

I am currently offering a range of services online including the following: