What Does Sucking in Do to Your Pelvic Floor: Navigating Women's Health and Fitness Seamlessly

What Does Sucking in Do to Your Pelvic Floor: Navigating Women's Health and Fitness Seamlessly

What Does Sucking in Do to Your Pelvic Floor: Navigating Women's Health and Fitness Seamlessly

Understanding the intricate connection between fitness practices and female physiology is crucial for a holistic approach to well-being. As phrases like "suck in your belly" become common cues during exercises, there's a growing need to delve into how such instructions affect the less-discussed but immensely significant area – the pelvic floor. In this exploration, we'll tackle the misunderstood concept of "sucking in," its implications on pelvic health, and provide actionable insights to ensure that fitness nurtures, rather than undermines, this important part of women's health.

Delving into the Pelvic Floor: What You Need to Know

Before jumping into the effects of breath-holding maneuvers, it's essential to comprehend the role of the pelvic floor. These muscles, located at the base of the pelvis, support the bladder, intestines, and uterus. They play a vital role in controlling the removal of bodily waste and are integral to sexual function.

The pelvic floor functions in coordination with the diaphragm and abdominal muscles as part of the 'core,' providing stability and strength that is foundational to nearly every form of movement.

The Impact of Sucking In on Your Pelvic Floor Health

When we 'suck in' our stomachs, we actively work against the natural tendency of the diaphragm to descend during the inhalation phase of breathing. This upward pressure can have detrimental effects on the pelvic floor, including:

Increased Intra-Abdominal Pressure

Elevating the pressure within the abdomen, a common result of sucking in, can strain the pelvic floor and lead to its eventual weakening. This can have knock-on effects on bladder control and exacerbate preexisting weakness, especially for postpartum and menopausal women.

Development of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Chronic misuse of the pelvic floor through incorrect breathing and bracing techniques during exercise can contribute to a disorder known as pelvic floor dysfunction. This can manifest as discomfort, urinary urgency, or difficulty with urination, and even sexual problems.

Risk of Urinary Incontinence

Sucking in may temporarily create the appearance of a flat stomach, but it's not without its trade-offs. Women who continually engage in this practice may be increasing their likelihood of experiencing stress or urge urinary incontinence, where the control over urination is inadvertently lost.

Potential for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

In more severe cases, constant pressure on the pelvic floor due to factors like severe breath holding can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic organs descend into the vagina due to the weakening of the muscles and ligaments that support them.

Strengthening the Foundation: Exercises for Pelvic Floor Health

Thankfully, there are exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can counteract the negative impact of everyday misuse:

Kegel Exercises

Kegels involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, an exercise designed to improve control over urination and enhance sexual health. When done correctly and as part of a balanced routine, Kegels can tone and maintain pelvic floor strength.

Core Strengthening Exercises

Exercises that engage the core, such as planks and bird dogs, are excellent for overall stability and indirectly strengthen the pelvic floor. These forms of exercise promote the balanced use of the core musculature and reduce reliance on the potentially damaging 'sucking in' technique.

Proper Breathing Techniques

Learning to breathe correctly during exercise is fundamental to preserving pelvic floor integrity. By prioritizing a full, relaxed breath that engages the diaphragm, you can avoid the increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by unconscious breath-holding 'sucks.'

The Crucial Role of Breathing and Posture

Proper breathing and posture are pillars of pelvic floor health, and when combined with physical activity, can safeguard against injury and strain:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Embrace a breathing technique that involves the diaphragm, not just the lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing facilitates the downward movement of the diaphragm, promoting relaxation of the pelvic floor and reducing the pressure or tension that can lead to dysfunction.

Neutral Spine Alignment

Maintaining a neutral spine alignment through exercises and daily movements is supportive of the pelvic floor. It ensures that back and abdominal muscles work effectively together, which, in turn, aids in promoting optimal pelvic floor function.

Engaging the Core Wisely

The core needs to be engaged, not just the abdominal wall. Learning to activate the core's transverse abdominis muscle in conjunction with the pelvic floor and diaphragm will provide the strength and support without the need to 'suck in' and compromise the pelvic health.

Protecting the Pelvic Floor in Fitness Activities

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned fitness enthusiast, keeping the pelvic floor safe during workouts is pivotal:

Refraining from the Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver, where you hold your breath to brace your core, is counterproductive to pelvic floor health. Instead, focus on a patterned, deep inhale and exhale that supports your movements without causing undue stress.

Modifying Exercises for Reduced Pressure

For exercises that traditionally come with a higher risk of pelvic floor strain, such as heavy lifting or intense core workouts, consider modifications. Decreased weights or alterations in range of motion can provide a safer experience without forsaking the benefits.

Seeking Professional Guidance

There's no substitute for the counsel of a pelvic-floor-focused physical therapist or a certified personal trainer. These professionals can tailor a fitness plan to strengthen the pelvic floor and provide strategies to use during various exercises.

Cultivating a Pelvic Floor-Friendly Fitness Routine

A focus on pelvic floor health enriches not just your fitness journey but your overall quality of life. It's a commitment to mindful movements, conscious postures, and a devotion to practices that honor rather than overexert the pelvic floor.

Women's health is a complex and evolving field, and as our understanding grows, so too should our approach to fitness. By integrating these principles into your regular exercise routine, you can pave the way for a more robust, supportive fitness lifestyle that resonates through every corner of your well-being. Let's continue the dialogue, seek information, and encourage one another on this path to lasting health and vitality.

ProKegel is a leading brand in pelvic floor strengthening and urinary incontinence management.
We offer FDA approved Kegel exercise products. Over 1,0000 women have used this method
✅Reverses prolapse, incontinence and diastasis recti
✅ Reduce pelvic and lower back pain
✅ Increase sexual desire
✅ Improve overall posture
✅Supports postpartum recovery
✅ Stronger core

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