Just to clarify, that’s “hypopresives for dummies”, not “hypopresives is for dummies”. Let me explain…
Having spent 21/22 April in London on Kaisa Tuominen’s Hypopresives course, I felt it was high time I wrote about it properly. Many of you will have seen my recent Blog post about sit-ups (in which I cited Hypopresives as a much kinder way of working your abdominals without abusing your pelvic floor), and I have also posted various links / videos / comments on my Lovefit facebook page, with reference to Hypopresives. But despite all this, I’m still being asked “what are hypopresives?” or “can you explain what Hypopresives involve?” As there’s a lot of science behind this method, most of the reading material is quite heavy going and not in easily digestible language for the average consumer. So in this article I’m attempting to answer your questions without any scientific or technical jargon. Here goes!
Q: How can I find out more about the Hypopresive Method?
A: As a first port of call, I recommend visiting http://hypopresives.com/
The three photographs on the first page show Kaisa performing Hypopresives. The rest of this site is rather scientific but will give you some more information about the benefits of using this method, and cites various studies, so I shan’t go into any details about that in this post.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the above website is very new as this is the first time the technique has been brought to the UK so this is the first English language website. Now that there are a handful of UK Fitpro’s trained in the method, more and more information will become available. This leads me to the next question…
Q: If the method is so revolutionary, why has it only just found its way into the UK?
A: It’s a good question, given the amount of research that has been done and the huge amount of evidence showing the benefits of Hypopresives. The answer is simply one of language. Dr Marcel Caufriez (creator of the Hypopresive Method) speaks French and for many years he was the only one teaching Hypopresives. He started developing the technique in the 1980’s and used it in physical therapy. Then he collaborated with a few other physical therapists who spoke French and Spanish, but at this time it was still used exclusively in therapy.
It wasn’t until Dr Caufriez met with Piti Pinsach (co-creator of the Dynamic Hypopresives) that they started getting the method introduced into the fitness sector, and they’ve been working hard to establish that from 2007-2012. This year, for the first time, they have a team of Spanish speaking master trainers in the fitness sector. Kaisa Tuominen is one of them and she offered to help with the English speaking world and started trying to expand this into the Fitness Sector properly. That initial team has now grown to include a full time administration team as well as the instructors, and less than a fortnight ago the first wave of UK Fitpros (amongst them me!) was introduced to Hypopresives.
Q: So what exactly IS this Hypopresive technique?
A: Take a look at the Hyporesives website to see photos of Kaisa performing the technique in various postures. Before trying to explain it, it’s worth looking at the word itself: “Hypopresive” simply means “reduced” or “low” pressure. So a hypopresive exercise is one which reduces intra-abdominal pressure. Most physical activities increase intra-abdominal pressure (think running, skipping, crunching etc). So the technique involves various postures which AUTOMATICALLY reduce intra-abdominal pressure. Within each posture an apnea (breath hold) is performed and an INVOLUNTARY contraction of the core muscles (pelvic floor, abdominals and so forth) is created by the nervous system. That’s why the photos show Kaisa’s tummy in a “sucked in” position. But that’s the point – she is not consciously sucking in at all! It’s all about reprogramming the involuntary muscle contractions (more on that below).
In simple, plain English, Hypopresives involve performing a sequence of different postures, with apneas in each posture. The focus is on creating a rhythm and moving seamlessly from one posture to another, without losing focus until you reach the end of the sequence.
Q: How does the method work?
A: Apologies for the overuse of block capitals above, but what I’m trying to convey is that Hypopresives are unlike any other traditional core exercise because they work on involuntary (i.e. automatic / subconscious) muscle contractions. Our muscles are made up of type I and type II fibres.
– Type II fibres are responsible for voluntary movement and generating force, and are often described as “phasic”. So big global movers like the quadriceps are mainly composed of type II fibres.
– Type I fibres are responsible for resting tone and subconscious actions. They are postural muscles and can be described as “tonic”. Examples include the transverse abdominus and, of course, most of the pelvic floor.
The fact is that less than a 1/3 of the muscle fibres in the abdominals and only 1/5 of those in the pelvic floor are type II. So traditional pelvic floor exercises (kegels) are only working about 20% of the pelvic floor. The other 80% is type I fibre, so in order to really “work” the pelvic floor (and the abdominals) some involuntary contractions are required. This is where Hypopresives come into play. Hypopresives stimulate the type I fibres, thus massively improving abdominal resting tone (i.e. you don’t consciously have to “pull your belly button in”) and pelvic floor function.
– Visit www.hypopresives.com for more of the science and for photos of Kaisa doing Hypopresives.
– Language has stalled the instroduction of this method to UK. But now it’s here!
– The technique involves a series of postures which reduce pressure in the abdominal cavity, and then performing apneas in each position.
– Most of the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are made up of type I (involuntary) fibres which require involuntary contractions in order to stimulate them.
I hope this little article has explained a bit more about what the Hypopresive method involves. I’ll be holding a free talk on the subject in due course and if you’re interested in working 1-1 with me then please get in touch as I am offering a bargain rate for my Hypopresives trial (10 x 30 minute sessions at my studio in Waterbeach). Why am I offering a reduced rate? Because I understand that this is a little different from what you’re used to, but I know that my trial group will get results that will have you all champing at the bit. In return for the reduced rate my guinea pigs must agree to:
– Have before and after photos taken which will be used in marketing on facebook and on various websites.
– Agree to follow the protocol with 100% adherence.
– Write about their experience of practising Hypopresives.
Can’t wait 🙂