Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Benefits of Hypopressive Exercises

Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause a lack of confidence and decreased mobility and independence. It can affect the person socially, at home and at work, and negatively impact their mental well-being. Studies show that up to 50% of women over 40 are affected by pelvic organ prolapse. Urinary incontinence is also a common condition caused by pelvic floor dysfunction – it affects up to 20% of all women and 77% of women living in nursing homes. 

Not only women are affected by pelvic floor issues. Sadly, pelvic floor dysfunction is under-reported in all genders. Many people feel uncomfortable about speaking about it and seeking treatment for it. The good news is that pelvic floor dysfunction can be treated and managed with pelvic physical therapy. A pelvic floor rehabilitation plan can include a variety of treatment options, such as pelvic strengthening exercises, manual therapy, and modification to lifestyle and physical activities. Hypopressive has become increasingly popular as part of the training program.

Hypopressive fitness can reduce the severity of pelvic floor dysfunction and improve quality of life. It is a safe and effective way to optimize the pelvic floor and core function.

What are Hypopressive or Low-Pressure Exercises?

Hypopressive or low-pressure fitness is a training system that can improve pelvic floor disorders. It takes a full-body approach that includes postural movements combined with the vacuum breathing technique to train and rehabilitate the pelvic floor muscles. A qualified physiotherapist or fitness trainer can assist individuals in learning hypopressive fitness techniques.

Some of the main goals of hypopressive or low-pressure fitness are to reduce intra-abdominal pressure, increase the activity of postural muscles, and normalize myofascial tension. It can help strengthen the deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, which will help prevent urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and other pelvic health issues.

The difference between HYPOpressive and HYPERpressive exercise

Hypopressive means to reduce pressure, and hyperpressive means to increase pressure. Most traditional exercises, if done incorrectly, are hyperpressive, which increases intra-abdominal pressure. If you notice a bulge or pushing out of the abs while working out, that is a sign of hyperpressive.

By contrast, hypopressive exercise reduces the body’s internal abdominal pressure and trains the core to work subconsciously, making it more effective in everyday life than when it is performed consciously. These exercises help the deep abdominal muscles to work as they were designed to – without thought or conscious intention.

A Short History of Hypopressive Exercise

For centuries, the vacuum breath used in hypopressive has been a form of breathing in yoga practices. In the 1980s, a European doctor, Dr. Marcel Caufriez, began researching hypopressive training to help improve pelvic muscle tone in women and prevent pelvic organ prolapse. In later years, Dr. Tamara Rial and Piti Pinsach expanded on the initial research and developed a hypopressive fitness system. It started in Spain and soon became the preferred training method for postpartum women.

These days, pelvic health physiotherapists worldwide are incorporating low-pressure fitness techniques into their treatment plans. With increased awareness of the prevalence of pelvic floor dysfunction, it is a highly valuable addition to a pelvic rehabilitation program.

a woman practices hypopressive breath in sitting with crossed legs

What Hypopressive or Low-Pressure Exercises Can Do

A range of benefits can be obtained from hypopressive training. Here are some of the most significant benefits:

Decreasing abdominal pressure

A pressure imbalance in your pelvic floor or core may result in a hernia, organ prolapse, or diastasis recti. Hypopressive techniques promote deep core muscle stability and decrease intraabdominal pressure by creating a vacuum effect in the abdomen. As a result, these conditions can be prevented and repaired.

Resetting the pelvic floor and core

You should not have to control your pelvic floor and core muscles consciously; they should work automatically. It is how we are designed! Hypopressive exercises will condition this area to work as it should without your conscious effort.

Strengthens the pelvic floor and core

Functional core and pelvic floor muscles are essential to daily life. Strengthening it is crucial for everyone, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. Hypopressives condition the muscles and connective tissue in your pelvic floor and abdominals.

Can reduce waist size

Hypopressive exercise improves pelvic floor muscle tone, strengthens the core, and tones the internal oblique muscles. Because it helps tone the abdominals, this exercise system can help reduce waist size. 

Helps prevent organ prolapse and incontinence

A strong and toned pelvic floor and core can help reduce or prevent urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and other pelvic issues. By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with hypopressive exercises, you can improve their tonicity and strength. This prevents these conditions from occurring or worsening in the first place.

Treats painful menstruation

Research shows that exercise is an excellent therapeutic tool in treating dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. This study also demonstrates that pelvic alignment can affect menstruation. Performing hypopressive exercises can restore pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue balance, improving menstruation pain. 

Who Benefits from Hypopressive or Low-Pressure Fitness?

Everyone! Hypopressives are all about retraining the pelvis and core muscles to work the way they were designed. However, the hypopressive technique can be particularly helpful to these groups:

  • People with loss of pelvic floor muscle function that is causing symptoms like incontinence, organ prolapse, pelvic pain, or sexual dysfunction.
  • Those who want to prevent any of the above from happening.
  • People who want to want to improve pelvic floor muscle strength and core strength without undue pelvic pressure.
  • Those who are seeking to prepare their bodies for pregnancy or recover pelvic floor strength after delivery.
  • Anyone who wants to improve their posture, improve circulation, decrease waist size, and tone the internal oblique muscles for a flatter abdomen.

Why Hypopressives are Better than Traditional Abdominal Exercises Postpartum

Hypopressive therapy is a popular treatment for postpartum women to maintain abdominal strength and tone and to strengthen the muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place. While regular exercise remains popular, research into practicing hypopressives postpartum shows promising results. A study revealed that it is particularly helpful in postnatal conditioning and diastasis recti repair.

In traditional abdominal exercises, internal pressure is increased, and the inner core system is used to counterbalance it consciously. In contrast, hypopressive exercises combined with vacuum breathing reduce intra-abdominal pressure while conditioning the core and pelvic floor muscles.

Hypopressives will help tone the waist and help combat incontinence, even before it begins, both common postpartum issues. 

a woman practice hypopressive pose on elbows and knees with forehead resting on the floor

Are there any Risks Associated with Hypopressive Exercise?

Learning and practicing the techniques with a qualified pelvic health physiotherapist or trainer is essential. They will tailor each session to your needs and goals and provide the best recommendations. In certain situations, hypopressives may not be recommended, for example:

  • During an acute flare-up of intestinal inflammation or digestive issues.
  • The vacuum breathing technique is part of the hypopressive exercise system and is not practiced during pregnancy. A pelvic physiotherapist, however, will be able to advise you on what would be helpful for core strengthening during pregnancy and after childbirth. InvigoPhysio provides complete support to prenatal and postnatal women to facilitate their prenatal needs and postpartum recovery.
  • People with high blood pressure cannot perform the vacuum breathing technique but can still do the exercises in the hypopressive training system. Please talk to us about your medical history.

Ready to Start?

Hypopressive exercises can significantly improve your pelvic floor and core strength and boost your quality of life. Toning pelvic and abdominal muscles helps prevent the risk of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. If you are ready to explore the benefits of hypopressive training, take the first step by starting with a qualified instructor. If you do not have the correct alignment and form, it is easy to get it wrong and not able to reap the benefits; however, it is easy to learn under the proper guidance.

Wondering how often you should do hypopressive exercises? You should practice for around 20 minutes two to three times a week in the beginning. 

InvigoPhysio is committed to helping you achieve your fitness and health goals. Contact us to learn more about hypopressive or low-pressure fitness and how it can help you. We offer the flexibility of training under expert guidance both in-person and online. We are here to ensure that you have the best experience. Talk to us if you have any questions, or book an appointment today!

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