5 Ways to Support Your Pelvic Floor When You Have a Cold or Chronic Cough

Updated: May 18

Hello friends! Reporting from coronavirus central (#KirklandWA).

Not to make light of our ongoing outbreak, but it seems like a good time to share some tips to help manage intra-abdominal pressure when you cough. These tips also work really well if you are peeing when you sneeze! Intra-abdominal pressure is pressure (in your abdomen, of course) pushing out against your inner core- pelvic floor, abdominals and diaphragm. It is generated during activity in order to provide stability to your torso. You can think of it a little like the pressure inside a soda can. Coughing or sneezing can create spikes in intra-abdominal pressure and if you are pregnant, early postpartum or managing a prolapse, this can lead to uncomfortable downward pressure into your pelvic floor; this can be at least as uncomfortable as the rest of the illness combined.

Here are a few tips for managing intra-abdominal pressure when you have a cough, cold or allergies:

1) If possible, take a big inhale and pre-contract your pelvic floor (kegel) before you cough (or sneeze).

2) Try and get taller by coughing into a raised elbow, rather than contracting or flexing around your middle. Taking a tall posture may put the pieces of your inner core in a good position to best manage the pressure.

3) Take a slight bend or hinge at your hips before you cough. I personally find this to be super helpful. Similarly to getting tall, taking a hinge at the hips (not flexing at the spine!) can put your core into an optimal position to fire in a coordinated and reflexive manner.

4) Sit down before you cough. Sitting provides physical support to your perineum.

5) Keep in mind that following a cold, an increase in pelvic floor symptoms is predictable and temporary and are not an indication that you’ve experienced a lasting change to anything in your pelvic floor. Your symptoms should resolve with rest and time.

Have you tried these or know of any other good tricks? I'd love to hear from you!

Stay healthy!

Take a deep dive into HOW to dial in your breathing strategy to manage your pelvic health and feel stronger in your workouts. Download a copy of The No B.S. Guide to Breathing for a STRONG Pregnancy and Postpartum.

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things. Contact me if you have questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum, if you’re local (Seattle's Eastside: Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland and surrounding areas) and interested in working with me on a custom personal training plan, or if you’d like help finding a qualified pregnancy or postpartum personal trainer near you.

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