Intro to Hypopressives (Part 1)

 Intro to hypopressives part I | Radiance WellnessIs this the new way to restore the core?

Could the Hypopressive Method of core training revolutionize how we flatten our abdominals and restore the pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth? My preliminary exploration of this new ‘method’ already has me thinking that we personal trainers might start to feel rather silly for all those years of teaching crunches and “belly-button-pulled-in’ exercises. Brace yourself, no pun intended, this stuff is wildly different than anything you’ve ever seen however the testimonials are pouring in and can’t be ignored. Using my kinesiology and personal training background here is my attempt to introduce and explain the Hypopressive Method or technique, also now known in North America as Low Pressure Fitness. 

Hypopressive benefits

“The Hypopresive Method is a core reprogramming system” says Level II Hypopressive Method instructor Janet Kimmel from Vancouver B.C.  The Hypopressive Method is used to restore the pelvic & core muscular systems back to optimal function. The Hypopressive Method finds it roots in urinary-gynecological rehabilitation with postnatal women using it to recover from the short and long term effects of giving birth. In very recent years the postnatal fitness community has embraced the technique and the fitness industry in general is now awakening to the claimed superior benefits of this type of ‘core’ training for physique benefits as well as for sports performance. It can:
  • flatten a protruding belly
  • strengthen a pelvic floor that cannot support the pelvic organs 
  • restore urinary continence 
  • resolve back pain
  • improve sexual and athletic performance
  • enhance metabolism

Why women love Hypopressives?

The appeal with Hypopressives is that it can be done without strenuous exercise, without a rigid workout routine or dietary intervention and there is no equipment required. Not only have women been reporting significantly better results than traditional physiotherapy interventions, but success can be achieved in 5 weeks with only 20 minutes a day of practice. As the new name Low Pressure Fitness implies, the technique produces low pelvic and abdominal pressure. This means that unlike with  pressure building crunches, planks and traditional abdominal training exercise prescriptions women with continence issues or pelvic organ prolapse can do the entire routine without compromising stability and safety. And the results can be immediate.

It’s old but brand new to North America

At this point you will be hard pressed to find a lot of info about Hypopressives. Currently there are very few practitioners in North America, very little research has been done on it, and almost all literature and trainings are in Spanish.  If you do come across a translated article or definition you probably won’t know what the heck it refers to because of all of the technical anatomy and physiology jargon. There are only a handful of practitioners in North America with the first instructor training having taken place in May 2013. You will be glad to know that it is not some new and trendy technique developed by an uncredentialed, super-buff fitness instructor. Hypopressive technique has actually been around for more than 30 years. Marcel Caufirez is credited as the creator of the concept ‘Hypopressive”, a clinician, researcher and professor from Belgium who specializes in Uro-Gynecology. 'Hypopresives' is the name he gave the breathing and posture technique he developed in the 80’s in Spain after working in postnatal rehabilitation. The technique grew and has been increasingly practiced in Spain with Hypopressives being taught in mainstream fitness settings across that country. Only very recently have North American practitioners learned about the technique as Spanish instructors have began implementing the method in North America, as well as North American instructors becoming trained to deliver Hypopressive education on this continent. Read more about the International associate education team that is bringing Hypopressives to North America Founder Marcel Caufirez Website  

How I learned about Hypopressives

I was blessed to have the opportunity of not only being introduced to the Hypopressive Method, but to also complete 7 private Hypopressive sessions with Level II instructor Janet Kimmel. With my background as a personal trainer and kinesiologist I grasped the science behind Hypopressives quickly. It makes complete sense to me and I was wowed by it's simplicity.  However despite Janet’s excellent knowledge and awesome teaching skills I really struggled to actually learn the technique. I took longer than her average client to get the hang of it. Also, as a Fitness Director I was looking at promoting this new core training technique and I found it very challenging to wrap my head around how to ‘sell’ this type of training to potential new clients.  Everything about it was novel for me and vastly different from the fitness world of core training I was still teaching every day. (In Part II of this article I share my in-depth challenges learning the technique as well as my struggles promoting the service.)

What exactly is a hypopressive?

Hypopressive Method or Low Pressure Fitness is a sequence of postures and rhythmic breathing that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  Yes, it sounds a lot like a Yoga or Pilates class but I assure you this is different. The concept is based on the fact that faulty muscle activation and or inappropriate tone (too much or too little) compromises the function of a muscle and the entire support system (i.e.: the system that supports the abdomen, the pelvic organs & spine stability). The SNS is an involuntary system and stimulation of the SNS via specific breathing and posture techniques actually resets and reprograms the muscle to normal function, sometimes instantly, according to the Hypopressive Method. Participants perform the Hypopressive postures and breathing techniques rhythmically and sequentially for 20 minutes daily for 5 weeks followed by a maintenance plan of 2 X week. Each exercise involves assuming a posture, initiating a strategic breathing pattern, followed by an apnea (breath hold). The next posture is immediately taken and the breath / apnea sequence is repeated. As students progress in ability the length of the apnea is increased. The tricky component is the postures. They are not like anything you have seen before in Yoga or Pilates and they are dynamic. It’s almost like learning a new dance routine or asana sequence. The breathing must be paired with the correct muscle activation or the effect is lost. You really have to ‘turn on’ the right muscles and ‘turn off’ the wrong ones, breathe, stop breathing, and release with accurate timing and engagement. This is where I became a little overwhelmed and needed lots of practice.

See Hypopressives in action 

This You Tube video from lowpressurefitness.com shows Hypopressives in action. (In Part II of this article I fully detail all the anatomy, physiology, the postures, the breathing, the apnea and my experiences and struggles learning and selling the technique)

A steep learning curve

I don’t think it is possible to learn the technique from a video or book. It’s too complex. Hypopressive or Low Pressure Fitness  instructors go through a lot of training to become certified. Even after 7 sessions I wouldn’t dare attempt to teach someone the technique. The good news is that once you get it, you get! A light maintenance routine is all you need. No more sessions or classes.

Who can teach Hypopressive Technique?

Instructors must be certified in Low Pressure Fitness. They generally come from the fields of Physiotherapy, Personal Training, Chiropractic, Pilates, Yoga, Doula & Midwifery. There are 3 levels of certification with each course lasting about 15 hours for a total of 45 hours of training.

Find a practitioner http://www.lowpressurefitness.com/gallery/

Find a course in USA http://www.lowpressurefitness.com/products/

Find a course in Canada http://hypopressivescanada.com/courses/

Hypopressives Resources

Corset Fitness by Trista Zinn, Canada’s first Master level  (Level 4) Trainer & international course instructor in Hypopressive (TM)-Low Pressure Fitness. HypopressiveVancouver by Hypopressive (TM)-Low Pressure Fitness instructor Janet Kimmel, from who I learned the Hypopressive techniques. Low Pressure Fitness The North American home of Hypopressives featuring the international associate team of instructors. Hypopressives Canada The official Canadian affiliate of Low PressureFfitness The official Hypopressive website (In SPANISH)
  Happy Training,  Shari   PART II & III COMING SOON! Hypopressives (Part 2)  How it works?  Basic anatomy and physiology that you need to know to ‘get it’ The Hypopressive posture, breathing and sequence and my challenges learning it Hypopressives (Part 3 ) My postpartum experience  Using Hypopressives after baby Postpartum recovery before and after  

One thought on “Intro to Hypopressives (Part 1)

  1. Hi. I’d be interested in reading part 2 and 3 of your hypopressives article but I can’t find it. Can you tell me how? Thanks
    Jen

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