Is it really weakness?

In today's world, we're often looking to fix things.  To make what is seen to be weak, stronger and more resilient.  But is it really weakness?

What if what feels weak, actually needs to let go?

Are we creating unnecessary tension when our body needs to release first?

 

“You can’t let go of something you don’t even realise you’re holding on to”

Sounds very profound and could apply to many different aspects of life, but here I’m talking about your body.

 

 

Specifically I’m talking muscular tension….but me being me, I’m also going to talk about the pelvic floor!

How did this phrase come about?

It was in the second practical stage of my Sports Massage qualification where we learnt and practiced Muscle Energy Techniques.

These were AMAZING for me.

Who knew!

In areas of my body that I have niggles, it turns out I was actually physically holding onto tension.  

I was making my own aches and discomfort worse!!!

Obviously this wasn’t intentional and holding onto that tension was (and is) subconscious.   So how do you let go if you don’t know you’re holding on?  By artificially increasing the tension, I was then able to let go.

This wasn’t a surprise really.

I am a “gripper”.

I hold onto things…tightly.

When it comes to my pelvic floor, I have a tendency to be “hypertonic” – this means that I hold my pelvic floor muscles tight and have to work consciously at letting go, releasing and relaxing.

This is actually surprisingly common in

  • Pilates and yoga enthusiasts and coaches
  • Highly trained and elite athletes
  • Women who hold their tummies in to look slimmer
  • Those who subconsciously hold tension through their abdominal and pelvic region

I see this a lot in clients though.

They come into my studio with their shoulders hanging off their ears after a busy or stressful day.

There’s no point me saying “relax your shoulders”, because they don’t even realise they’re holding them up.  So what do I say?

“Inhale and lift your shoulders to your ears, exhale and allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back”

Result? 

Shoulders ease away from their ears, they look visibly relaxed and ready to move.  They’ve already started to move with their breath and tune into how their body actually feels.

We can’t let go of something if we don’t realise we’re holding it tight in the first place.

Everyone is so keen to get better, stronger, faster, thinner, etc, etc, etc that the focus is all on more, on harder. 

With this approach, it can be easy to overlook the value and importance of release, letting go and resetting.

In our focus on dealing with, and fixing things, we may miss the fact that it may be too much tension in parts of our body that is causing an issue.

This comes back to my point on pelvic floor issues, and also low back discomfort.

There’s a common misconception that these issues are due to weakness. 

If this is what you believe then it makes sense to think you need to work harder and stronger.

Maybe we need to think differently.

Not all issues are due to weakness.

Particularly when it comes to pelvic floor and low back issues, issues can arise through muscular tension – an inability to release and relax.

If we’re holding muscles tight for a prolonged period of time, they fatigue. 

Imagine carrying a heavy bag on a bent arm for an hour.  When you finally put that bag down, it’s going to be difficult to fully straighten that arm back out, isn’t it?  

Not only that, but lifting something else up, however light, will be difficult too, won’t it.  

Try it if you don’t believe me….you probably wouldn’t even have to do it for an hour to see what I mean.

So if we’re doing that with our pelvic floor muscles, with our spinal muscles, with our shoulders, and elsewhere can you start to see the impact on your body?

It’s time to let go.

In my video on an alternative view on how to “Brace your core”, the R stands for release (you can see the full video by clicking here).

When it comes to pelvic floor connection and strengthening*, the release and relax element of the move is AT LEAST as important as the squeeze.  

But nobody talks about that…it’s all about the squeeze and lift.

If we don’t release and relax though, where can you squeeze to???

And when I talk about release, I don’t mean dropping that pelvic floor like a stone – I’m talking about controlled relaxation as you let go of tension steadily.

Whilst this is something I include in my coaching, the best way to ensure you are properly engaging and releasing your pelvic floor muscles is to work with a Female Health Physiotherapist.   They have the added benefit of being able to use biofeedback so you can see, feel and hear sensory inputs to really help you connect with your body

(If you’re not sure about or nervous of visiting a Female Health Physio, click here to read my blog on what happens in your appointment)

* when I talk about “strengthening” here, I’m actually referring to resilience – the ability to engage and release

“You can’t let go of something you don’t even realise you’re holding on to”

^^^ Does this now make more sense?

Do you think this may be relevant to you, your Core and Pelvic Floor?

How is this showing up in your body?

What can you do to release, let go and rebuild?

If the answer to the last question is “I don’t know” and you’d like some help and support then please do get in touch.

 

Lisa is a Core & Floor specialist, supporting women to build a more resilient core that copes with everyday, training and transitions such as pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood and menopause.  She is also an MNU Certified Nutritionist.  CLICK HERE to contact Lisa directly with your questions.

 

 

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