When Drew Barrymore exercises, she goes all in. “I throw myself around in these classes,” she tells Allure Editor-in-Chief Michelle Lee in a new episode of the Allure Podcast. “I get all amped up from the music, and before you know it, I’m like a beach ball bouncing around these classes.”
However, after giving birth to her two children via Cesarean section (C-section) — a major abdominal surgery — Barrymore says she had "no pelvic floor." While the pelvic floor — which board-certified gynecologist Anne Sammarco describes as a sort of "hammock" of muscles supporting the pelvic organs — doesn't disappear during pregnancy and childbirth, it can be damaged and significantly weakened. Sammarco says pelvic floor disorders are less common in people who deliver via C-section than vaginally, but the pressure from the rapidly growing womb can certainly impact those muscles prior to childbirth. And in either case, she says the stretching from pregnancy can also take a toll on the abdominal wall muscles; with C-sections, those muscles may need to be cut to get the baby out safely, leading to even more weakness.
This all created a bit of an issue for the endorphin-seeker when it came to practicing some of her favorite forms of exercise. “My biggest problem with working out is I have no pelvic floor,” she explains on the podcast. “It’s like a fish tank on a pole and...everyone’s like ‘Work out from the core! And I’m like, ‘I’ve never met my core. So, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
As it turns out, the lack of a strong core combined with the “beach ball bouncing” workout-class approach can lead to serious injury. In Barrymore’s case, she eventually suffered a slipped disc that landed her in a hospital for treatment before she could return to work. This was enough to convince Barrymore she needed to make a change — just not the extreme, exercise-all-day-every-day type change. “None of that appeals to me,” she tells Lee. Instead, she turned to Emsculpt, one of several body-contouring procedures taking the wellness world by storm. The non-invasive treatment uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy to trigger muscle contractions in a way typical core exercises simply can’t.
“Emsculpt essentially causes 20,000 muscle contractions in 30 minutes, constricting the muscles beyond any sort of physiological norm, and targeting fat loss to the area of the muscle — something sit-ups alone could never accomplish,” board-certified dermatologist Arash Akhavan previously told Allure. The FDA-cleared device separates itself from other body-contouring offerings by simultaneously eliminating fat cells and building muscle fibers.
While some patients may use it for purely aesthetic reasons, Akhavan tells Allure it can definitely be beneficial for improving exercise. "It's a great procedure for strengthening muscles that are very important for proper form and exercise," he says.
Barrymore says the procedure — paired with physical therapy pilates, which she says “is literally the complete understanding of how your pelvic floor functions” — has been “really helpful” in rebuilding those lost muscles and returning to a place of safe exercise. It's worth noting that, according to Akhavan, Emsculpt targets the abdominal muscles but not the pelvic floor; a different device (with similar function), Emsella, targets the latter.
Barrymore doesn't specify exactly how she used Emsculpt and pilates. But, “between the two, I started working out in a way where I wasn’t getting injured all the time,” she says in the podcast, later adding, “My whole infrastructure inside is completely different. I don’t know how much the outside is totally different, but the inside is totally different, and I have not been in a doctor’s office with an injury in like almost a year.”
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Originally Appeared on Allure