Beyond Kegels: Five Tips for Pelvic Floor Health
By Chris Hayden, CR, Lic. ABT
The pelvic floor is vital for childbirth and in daily life. Having muscles and connective tissue that are resilient and responsive is so useful for getting proper support and mobility throughout the body. But this means muscles that can both contract and relax according to need. Here are some ways to develop your versatility
1) Sit on your sit bones. Also known as your ischial tuberosities, they provide a stable, less tense version of sitting than crunching on your tailbone. You can fin tutorials online, and in-person instruction can teach additional stability.
2) Get into a flat-footed squat (or closer to it). This one can take some time and coaching, but the ability to do a full squat means a pelvic floor that can open as needed. Careful, this one can be dangerous if done improperly or too quickly. I spend lots of time on coaching my tai chi students on it.
3) Don’t hold back. Use the bathroom in a timely manner to decrease chronic pelvic tension.
4) Breath into it. During inhalation, pelvic floor muscles should let out a little and then contract slightly during exhalation. This allows for a more relaxed breath, and a 24-hour exercise program for your floor Most people hold tight here when breathing, so see if you can gently breathe into your abdomen and into the floor, like a ball expanding, as an awareness exercise to get things moving.
5) Walk naturally. If your pelvic bones and sacrum are fairly mobile, every step you take will keep your pelvic floor muscles mobile and active. It can be very hard to become aware of tension patterns in this area, but landing hard on your heels or moving shoulders side to side are two of the signs of strong tension. Movement education or soft tissue and joint mobilization in your legs, pelvis, and back can be very useful.