Do any of these cues sound familiar?
'Breathe all the air out'
'Empty your lungs completely'
'Make sure there's no air left'
I've worked with hundreds of women over the last 3 years, and this is something that comes up all the time - so I thought I would have a brief chat about it here.
When people come to me saying they've been doing hypopressives and either their symptoms are staying the same or only improving a bit - this is one of the things I'm looking for.
Physiologically, you can't empty your lungs completely - there will always be a residual volume of air left in your lungs even after a maximum forceful exhalation. This keeps the alveoli open at all times and is a protective mechanism.
When you are doing a cycle of breathing in hypopressives, you only want to exhale until your exhale comes to a natural end: cue - exhale at the same strength until the breath fades away, without increasing the strength of the exhale to push more air out. At that point you hold your breath, pause - and stretch your ribs.
How do I know if I'm over exhaling?
You can test this yourself but taking in a nice steady inhale through your nose for 3, and then exhaling steadily through your mouth (for about 5 or 6), with your jaw relaxed - keeping the strength of your exhale the same whilst lengthening through the crown of your head. At the point when your exhale starts to fade away - don't be tempted to increase the strength of your exhale - simple hold your breath at this point, pause, stretch your ribs and keep lengthening.
Hope this is helpful!