Do you sometimes pee a bit when you sneeze?
I’ve been there and it can be nerve wracking, and annoying.
When I would feel a sneeze coming on I used to do what you are always taught to do, I did a kegel and engaged my pelvic floor.
It only worked sometimes. Not quite what I hoped for.
And then I realized three things.
1. Our pelvic floors have the most ability to absorb the pressure of our sneezes if they are relaxed not tense. This is much like any muscle, if it is already shortened and then you ask it to shorten some more it can’t. A sneeze is basically a very strong exhale and our pelvic floors tend to lift and shorten with our exhales and lengthen with our inhales. It makes sense then that if I want my pelvic floor to contract against the sneeze most effectively I need to stop contracting it ahead of time.
2. Our bodies are sneezing for a reason so it makes sense to let the sneeze do its job and come out of our noses to clear the sinuses. Otherwise we will just sneeze again and again.
Letting the sneeze exit our body means our pelvic floors need to do less work as a bunch of the pressure created goes out not down. Sneezes are powerful!
3. The pelvic floor has the most support from the bones of the pelvis if it isn't tucked under with the butt tensed. If you think of the pelvis as a bowl full of water, if the water is spilling out the back your pelvic floor doesn't get much support from the bones. If it is tipped so that the water spills out the front the pelvic floor gets more support from the bones. So when sneezing it helps to tip it forward so water would spill out the front. I don't suggest you walk around that way all the time because it makes it harder for your abs to work and can lead to a tight back but when you sneeze it's a great idea.
So I offer you this experiment.
Try it a few times in the comfort of your own home, because it is a bit scary to let go of control and if the consequences of it not working mean you have to wear wet clothes all day it’s going to be pretty hard to do it.
Next time you sneeze, and you are at home, aim to get a nice big inhale right before. That’s usually how it works anyways.
For this to be most effective, you need to keep your ribs and pelvis in line with each other. Most people lean back like crazy right before they sneeze, so it will take a bit of attention and you may not get it the first time.
When the bottom hole of the ribcage and the top hole of your pelvis point to each other they can feel each other (and therefore function) better. Another way to think of it is that when they are lined up the front of your torso and the back of your torso will be around the same length. This is super helpful when you are inhaling and then as your sneeze happens you can play with tipping the pelvic forward a bit.
Don’t get scared and tense up your pelvic floor!
Now let that sneeze out. Don't shove it back in but let all that force come out your nose if you have something to catch the snot or out your mouth if you don't.
This takes some practice but it is amazing the first time you feel your pelvic floor respond itself without your help to a sneeze.
How did it go?
I know it’s worked wonders for me.
I hope it works for you too.
If you want help to find the breath and pelvic floor connection I offer one on one coaching sessions as well as my online group course Mothership