I have been asked some great questions regarding sneezing and coughing and the pressure these sometimes violent actions can put on our pelvic floor. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but our bodies usually do. Pay attention to what your body does when you sneeze.
When we sneeze, many of us squeeze our knees together or even cross our legs. If you think about it, by doing this we are recruiting our adductors (one of the muscles we need to strengthen as part of our pelvic basket). We often unconsciously fire these muscles because our bodies know that by engaging our adductors, we can assist our pelvic floor muscles.
Some others may sit down quickly if they feel a sneeze or cough coming on. This is usually done with a forward lean which extends our spine and lifts our tail bone putting a passive tension on our pelvic floor. Once again, our bodies will lead us into a position that will better support our pelvic floor.
If we pay attention to our body it will show us, in these subtle ways, how we can help ourselves. To take this knowledge and help ourselves further, we need to allow ourselves to use all the muscles of our pelvic basket to help work against the force of a sneeze or cough.
Here are some helpful tips that you can try:
• Draw your transversus abdominus (TA) muscle in and elevate your pelvic floor as you feel the sneeze or cough coming on.
• Resist the urge to crunch your body forward since this will recruit your rectus abdominus (RA) and draw your ribs down, allowing no expansion of your chest and forcing the pressure downward. Make a conscious effort to stay extended whether sitting or standing.
• Follow your body’s urge to squeeze your knees together. This will assist your pelvic floor. To take it a step further, turn your toes out to recruit your external hip rotators further assisting your pelvic floor.
So go ahead and sneeze…you can handle it!