One of the great things I discovered in 2020 was Hypopressives.
You’ve not heard of Hypopressives? No, I hadn’t either. But as you may already know, I’m always keen to try out different things from a health and fitness perspective.
For a month or so during the first lockdown I followed online Hypopressives training with the lovely Michelle Burrows from Get Inspired Coaching.
Michelle had discovered Hypopressives for herself a few years back and has since become a senior UK Hypopressives trainer. We cover Michelle’s story a little later on, but in the meantime, what is hypopressives and how might it benefit you?
What is Hypopressives?
Simply put, Hypopressives is a low-pressure postural and breathing technique.
It can have a positive effect on the whole body, with particular benefit for the posterior chain muscles – our backs, glutes and calves. Most importantly though, it can make a huge difference to our pelvic floor muscles and this is often how people discover Hypopressives.
How does it work?
Most pelvic floor and core exercises train conscious core control, however, Hypopressives works differently by decreasing internal pressure to the abdominal and pelvic areas of the body and therefore re-programming the core muscles to work again as they were designed to i.e. sub-consciously without you having to think about it.
This is achieved via apnoea (vacuum breath) after full exhalation in combination with different postural positions.
The great news is that Hypopressives is a low-pressure form of exercise (making it accessible to most people) and requires no equipment apart from your own body. You can also practice it in your own time and space once you’ve learned the basics.
What are the benefits?
There are actually a surprising amount of benefits including:
- Toning abdominal and pelvic floor muscles
- Prevention and treatment of incontinence, prolapse and hernias
- Increasing explosive strength and anaerobic capacity
- Reducing waist circumference
- Enhancing metabolism
- Improving posture
- Improving digestive health
- Activating the sympathetic nervous system – calming the fight or flight response
- Improving sexual function and sensation
- Injecting calm and positivity into your day
Who can benefit from Hypopressives?
Given the list of benefits above, most people could probably benefit in one way or another.
Women who’ve experienced stress incontinence as a result of childbirth or bodily changes from the menopause are the most obvious beneficiaries. This is how most people currently discover Hypopressives.
Traditionally in the UK, when someone experiences a prolapse and/or stress incontinence, they’ve been told to “just give it time”. Sadly, people accept their symptoms as a new norm and simply get used to this. These can become entrenched limiting beliefs “that’s just the way I am”, which becomes very difficult to shift.
But those experiencing prolapse are not the only ones who could benefit from Hypopressives. Due to the powerful changes in your core, it is as relevant for athletes looking to improve their explosive strength as it is for post-natal mums/ It can also benefit menopausal ladies, men with prostate issues or those with back pain due to poor posture from everyday living.
Looking again at the benefits above, are there any that you could benefit from?
I was most interested by the postural benefits and additional time for calm, although opportunities to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles are always welcome too!
Where do Hypopressives come from?
Despite being little known in the UK, they’ve actually been used here for over 10 years, having been developed in their current form from a group of Hypopressive researchers and enthusiasts in Spain.
The Hypopressive breathing method was actually developed in Belgium in the 1980s and was originally used for post-natal women with pelvic floor dysfunction and prolapse.
However, vacuum breathing also has roots in the Yoga Bandha (lock) breath which has been practised for hundreds of years. Benefits of Yoga Bandha are very similar to benefits seen from Hypopressive breathing, and include increased circulation to vital organs and the alleviation of stress and mental restlessness bringing about inner balance.
Michelle was fit and healthy but this didn’t stop her from experiencing a prolapse after the birth of her first child. She was proactive in her personal approach and tried a whole host of tools and exercises. The only other option she was aware of at this time was surgery.
She decided to go with the surgery after her second child. As with many operations, she had a 6-week recovery period where she was very limited with what she could do. This was very frustrating and constrictive for a busy, active, working mum with 2 young kids. The surgery gave her some relief in her symptoms in the first year, however the affects didn’t appear to be long-lasting.
In her mid 30s, Michelle felt way too young to be feeling this way.
Having discovered the benefits of Hypopressives first hand, Michelle is now on a mission to help other people to rediscover their ability to live active lives.
Who does Michelle help?
Most of the clients Michelle sees are ladies in either their 30-40s (post children) or ladies in their 60s having been through the menopause. She has had a few men amongst her clientele too.
Michelle provides Hypopressives training initially on a 1:1 basis, to ensure that the basics are properly understood and being practised. She also runs group sessions, similar to other group exercise classes. Here attendees join to further their practice and learn various different postures and flows, making it more interesting and beneficial as different areas are being working.
All training is currently available online!
Having experienced both the 1:1 training and the group classes, I can personally recommend both wholeheartedly. I have noticed some positive improvements to my posture and my abs have also improved beyond previous efforts.
Hypopressives may still not be widely known in the UK, but as more and more people discover the benefits, it’s popularity will surely grow.
With its wide range of health benefits and accessibility to most people, I recommend you get in touch with Michelle to see how you can get learn the methods. This could be as life-changing for you as it has been for her and many of her clients!
Thank you for reading! For more on Age Life Balance, browse the blog at www.agelifebalance.com to find out more.