Why Holding Your Breath is Bad for Your Pelvic Floor

At my pelvic floor therapy appointment this week, I explained to my PT how I leaked while doing a deadlift.  She asked me to demonstrate and she spotted my problem immediately! I was using the Valsalva maneuver (VM).  What is the VM you ask?  Well, you have probably done a version of it at some point when lifting without even realizing it.  Basically, it’s when you breathe in and then hold the air in your lungs by closing your glottis (a part of the larynx that allows the air to go in and out of your windpipe).

Many weightlifters use the Valsalva maneuver because it can add core stability and keep your spine aligned, ultimately allowing you to lift more weight.  The problem with the Valsalva maneuver when you also suffer from bladder leaks is doing them improperly, essentially forcefully bearing down while you’re holding your breath.  This leads to opening the pelvic floor vs. tightening it. 

So instead of taking a deep breath and forcing pressure on your pelvic floor, take a deep breath through your nose and exhale as you lift.  By inhaling through your nose, you will also able to do a Kegel at the same time, fortifying your pelvic floor!

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