Interview with Raúl Rebollo: The Hypopressive Technique

Hypopressive techniques don't only help with exercise performance, but they can also help prevent injuries and better your posture, among other benefits.
Interview with Raúl Rebollo: The Hypopressive Technique

Last update: 08 March, 2020

Marcel Caufriez, a Belgic physiotherapist created the hypopressive technique in the 1980s. His main objective was to improve recovery outcomes for women who had given birth. This by strengthening their pelvic floor. In fewer words, it’s a way to “re-educate” your body.

As time passed, more and more people found success with this technique. Now it’s not only used by women who’ve given birth but people who simply want to improve their health and workout performance.

Interview with Raúl Rebollo

Raúl Rebollo is a physiotherapist, and for the past three years, a triathlon athlete, too! Because of this, he can talk about both his work experience and experience as an athlete.

He stands out as a professional because of the clarity with which he explains things. This can range from why an injury happens and what you can do about it, what you need to avoid, and what’s most recommendable and why among other things.

As a triathlete, he emphasizes the importance of maintaining good posture, as well as good breathing techniques. He also reiterates the importance of correct movement techniques in order to improve your general well-being as well as reaching the performance level you’re seeking.

Let’s look at some of the ways that the hypopressive technique can help you:

Q. What do hypopressive techniques consist of?

Hypopressive techniques (from the Greek hypo which means “less” and the Latin presivo, meaning “pressure”) are a series of respiratory exercises. You do them in very specific postures; it’s also called “intra-abdominal hypopressive”.

When you do them, the intra-abdominal pressure decreases and there’s a reflexive activation in the pelvic muscles and the abdominal muscles.

To do these exercises correctly, keep these aspects in mind:

  • Auto-elongation. This is a feeling that you’re growing as if a string were attached from the top of your head to the ceiling. Curiously, when doing this your gut will “suck itself in” on its own.
  • It stretches your occipital from behind. With this gesture, your jaw moves closer to the sternum.
  • The hypopressive technique decompresses your shoulders. It’s as if your shoulders were slightly moved outwards.
  • It moves your center of gravity forward. When doing this, you incline slightly forward.
  • Respiratory apnea. You exhale and don’t breathe while you do this exercise.
  • Opening of your ribs. Once you’ve done everything else, it’s time to do the exercise. To do this, open your ribs and stay there for the amount of time indicated by your instructor.

*Important note: As with all exercises, doing this incorrectly could result in injury. So if you’re interested in trying out this new type of training, it’s best to start out with a specialized instructor who can guide you. That way, you’ll make sure that you’re doing them correctly and a professional can help with any necessary corrections.

A woman practicing hypopressive exercises.

The incorrect execution of a movement or a series of movements can result in injury, so be careful!

Q. Why are these techniques important?

These techniques are recommended because they can help improve your respiratory function and your general posture. They can also help you tone your pelvic floor, in women and men.

The techniques can also help to prevent the appearance of hernias and the prolapse of the organs of the pelvic floor. And of course, they can cinch your waist!

There are a lot of benefits! That’s why more people of all kinds – young people, older people, athletes, etc. – use them.

We recommend doing it in the morning, especially with an empty stomach. 

Q. Who are these directed towards? Can anyone do them?

This is something that almost everyone can use. As with all techniques, there can always be contradictions and restrictions. It’s important to know what kinds of people with what illnesses can’t do hypopressive exercises at all.

We can group these techniques, for example with in the world of gynecology. Without exception, these exercises are great for women to prevent and treat incontinence, prolapse, etc.

In men, we often recommend these exercises after any kind of prostate procedure. One thing that many don’t notice is that the exercises tend to strengthen erections. We know that the strength of the muscles of the sex organs is strongly related to hypopressive techniques. As a result, it helps with the oxygenation of the muscles of the pelvic floor and the sex organs.

People with lumbar pain should also practice this method, as it also prevents future pain.

The contradictions to the hypopressive technique are the following:

  • Hypertension.
  • Heart or kidney problems.
  • During pregnancy or immediately following birth (6 weeks after).

It depends on the exercise that you do. It might be that you have knee problems so you can’t do certain exercises that involve the knees, for example. Fortunately, there’s usually a way to adapt the exercise so the patient can do more.

The benefits of the hypopressive technique

Q. How does this relate to enhanced performance?

Within the sports arena, we know that strengthening exercises are important. So is stretching properly, sleeping enough, and eating well. However, one of the most important things for an athlete is to have a good breathing technique.

And if there’s a target muscle involved in your exercise, do you know what it is? Do you know how to strengthen it? Do you know how to stretch it? Because if you exercise your quadriceps, why not do the same thing with your breathing muscles? You might have guessed it, but if not, I’ll tell you: the muscle we’re referring to is the diaphragm.

In competitive sports, small details really mark the difference. If you’re capable of improving your respiratory function, you’ll be able to circulate more oxygen through your arteries with many benefits.

A picture of internal organs with the diaphragm in red.

The diaphragm is an excellent muscle that, together with others, helps us to breathe.

Q. Could you tell us about a success story?

Every day there are more athletes that include hypopressive techniques in their training. Recently we saw Fernando Alarza and Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, who both said they’d started doing hypopressive exercises.

Q. What are the benefits of the hypopressive techniques in elite performance?

There are several benefits that can help any athlete improve, especially for elite performance. Here are some major ones:

  • The technique prevents hernias.
  • It improves your posture while you exercise.
  • The technique prevents injuries and helps with recovery.
  • It increases red blood cells, which helps to oxygenate the muscle tissues.
  • It favors the reduction of lactate in the blood, especially after long exercises.

Q. Could you give us some advice for all those athletes that train every day?

We’d recommend that you first visit a physiotherapist who can teach you how to do the exercises properly. Then you can introduce them into your training routine 3-4 times a week. Since it involves holding your breath, you’ll be able to count seconds each day and see how much you’re progressing.

Parallel to this, you’ll start noticing little improvements when it comes to resistance training, speed, or the feeling of going fast but not getting out of breath. Because we all know that when you do exercise and your breathing is controlled, you’re capable of tolerating more and doing it better. 

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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.