I understand that the Valsalva Maneuver is a useful strategy in lifting heavy weight, but is it useful for your postpartum recovery?

This technique creates a TON of intra-abdominal pressure, which is supposed to reduce the load on the spine and increase power output on the hard part of the exercise.

But did you know that this amount of intra-abdominal pressure ALSO puts an insane amount of load on the pelvic floor which increases risk of pelvic organ prolapse? And not only that but the pressure on the belly during the maneuver can also worsen diastasis!

When it comes to postnatal fitness, it’s important to ask yourself the purpose. Why are you doing the movements you are doing? Do they achieve that goal? And most importantly, is there a better or safer way to achieve the goal?

If your goal is just to lift heavy weight and be strong and fit, try to decrease load in your squats and deadlifts and practice an inhale to lower and an exhale to stand. You might not be able to chase a PR with this strategy, but at least it will keep your pelvic floor safe!!

On the inhale imagine breathing and expanding through all sides of the ribcage, and on the exhale feel like you’re using the breath to blow your hip bones further apart (your deep transverse abdominals should engage). THIS is a wonderful strategy for postpartum strength!

And if you are chasing PRs, make sure your pelvic floor is ready and seek out a PFPT if you’re not sure. You may have to re-evaluate your goals, but I’d rather put my PRs on hold and do something else that’s still fun than deal with pelvic floor dysfunction for the rest of my life.

Please share this information with any fit mamas in your life! When we know better, we can do better.

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