Clothes choices matter…
If you’ve trained with me before you’ll know I’ll pick up on your choice of high waisted leggings if they are particularly snug!
Why? Because put simply, it impacts how we breathe, how we manage pressure in our core and therefore impacts abdominal and pelvic floor function.
And I get it…postpartum we are in that limbo phase coming out of maternity wear and searching for new clothes or trying to get into our old ones. Even just the thought of fitting into those high waisted jeans we wore pre pregnancy or our old fashionable leggings makes us feel good. And that’s ok, but not at the expense of our pelvic health ladies. And trust me, no one cares what size you are wearing.
I made a similar error in judgement earlier this month at a wedding when I chose to wear a dress pretty restricted at the ribcage but it felt fine to get on…as the day progressed it felt harder and harder to breathe laterally and so that lower belly pooching showed up! The next morning my entire abdomen had changed shape with much more lower belly distention and seriously tight back and upper abs! There was also a lot more pressure out from my tummy gap that still remains (I could visibly see the pressure ‘leaks’ so to speak!). After mobilising my ribcage and thoracic spine followed by deep breathing drills, I finally felt the release! And it felt GREAT!
You see where I’m going with this…
Think of our core as a balloon, a coke can or helium canister. If there is a band tied tight around the balloon or a cinch in the coke can what happens to its shape? How does the air displace?
There are 2 common patterns that occur:
Which can be likened to what we did in our 20s, sucking our tummy’s in to fit in those stupidly small jeans and/or to make our waistline look smaller than it actually was.
Gripping from the upper ab muscles (external obliques) continually throughout the day increases intra-abdominal pressure and puts unnecessary force on the pelvic floor. It also forces your body to breathe more into your chest with more work coming from your neck and shoulder muscles. Do you ever notice your shoulders rise when you inhale?
If you are walking around with excessive tension in your abs, this can also contribute to an overactive pelvic floor especially if you are sucking everything up like some extended Hypopressive move! A tight pelvic floor is already in a contracted state – without the ability to fully relax, it can’t fully contract and this can also lead to pelvic pain and leaking down the line. Not to mention it impacts sexual function and can lead to pain during those intimate moments. Who wants that?
If you are not sucking in then taking the balloon example, your body’s reaction will be to push out from somewhere else – onto lower abs and bearing down onto your pelvic floor, which I don’t have to remind you, are already stretched from pregnancy.
It impacts abdominal and pelvic floor healing and strengthening if:
Then think about the implications for improving a diastasis or symptoms of incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
It also impacts digestion which can make you feel more bloated, give you heartburn or indigestion and even abdominal pain (like a stitch or cramping). I have personally felt all these things when spending too much time in tight high waisted jeans!
So next time you put on that outfit or get ready to train in the gym. Think about the following things:
Of course there are going to be times when you just wear what you want to wear! And that is fine too, but think about a balance. You want to feel COMFORTABLE in what you are wearing not only for yourself but for your abs and pelvic floor! They will thank you for it.
Given I live mainly in athleisure, I have my go to brands which change depending on many factors including that time of the month! When my abdomen is already distended due to hormones the week before my period I’ll even revert back to my trusty soft Lululemon’s or Natal Active maternity leggings if my day to day just don’t feel right and constricted. There is no shame in it…our bodies were made to change and adapt and therefore our clothing will need to also!
I hope this helps and always here for any questions.
What have you noticed about your clothes choices and how it impacts on your core and pelvic floor?
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