In the last five years, I have learnt so much about pelvic health. What I have learned has changed the experience of my body. Aches and pains I used to have are now just a memory.
In our bodies, all roads lead to the pelvis. Your pelvis joins your legs to your upper body. Your pelvis is the keystone for your spine. Your pelvis is the seat of your sexuality. Your pelvis shapes the way you walk.
When I was growing up, there was no such thing as pelvic health. There was only period pain and painkillers. I had no understanding of how to look after my pelvic health.
After what I’ve learned recently, I want to share it with the world.
I want you to know what stretches and positions nourish your pelvic floor, activate your glutes to support your back, release your hip, flexors to gain more freedom of movement. Mostly, I want you to know, the way you move your whole body affects your pelvic health.
First, let’s busts in myths.
1 Your pelvic floor is weak. If you suffer from pelvic floor issues such as prolapse or incontinence, the general wisdom is that you need to strengthen your pelvic floor. What we know now is that the pelvic floor is not a floor it is a diaphragm just like the one under your ribs. As a diaphragm, your pelvic floor needs to be supple and responsive with just the right amount of strength to allow this responsiveness. If your pelvic floor is short, tight, and gripping most of the time it will lose responsiveness. In order to build pelvic floor strength, the first step is to release tightness and restore responsiveness which allows you to build strength.
2 Kegels are the best way to build strength.
New evidence shows that Kegels are very ineffective at helping people with pelvic floor issues. If your pelvic floor is fairly responsive, and you have a good connection with the musculature, kegels can be helpful. But most people struggling with pelvic floor issues suffer from chronic tightness. Kegels can make this chronic tightness, worse and symptoms worse.
3 I need to tighten up down there.
When you suffer from prolapse or incontinence, it can feel like you need to tighten up your pelvic floor muscles. However, to restore function to your pelvic floor often it’s the opposite that’s needed. By releasing tension and learning, deep, functional breathing, you can get your pelvic diaphragm to start responding to your thoracic diaphragm. Once this responsiveness is restored, just breathing, can can strengthen your pelvic diaphragm because it’s moving again. Focusing on exercises like Kegels that tighten up floor muscles can often make symptoms much worse.
Let’s start with a list of dos and don’ts for your pelvic health.
1 Do enjoy walking, walking is fantastic for your pelvic floor, strength and responsiveness.
2 Do mobilise your rib cage, twisting through your rib cage to release tension in your thoracic diaphragm (under your ribs) can help to line up your rib cage with your pelvis. This alignment helps to coordinate with your thoracic diaphragm with your pelvic diaphragm.
3 Do practice, deep breathing, bringing your breath down into your pelvis (to in between your sit bones) helps to mobilise and strengthen your pelvic floor.
4 Do release tension from your pelvic floor by using a release ball. A firm rubber ball is a great way to release tension around your sit bones, and at the back of your pelvic floor between your sit bones and your tailbone. You can use the ball when you’re seated and bring your body weight on top of it. Or you can lay down on your back and bring the ball under the back of your sit bones.
5 Do stretch your glutes, lengthening, your glutes( your bum muscles) helps your pelvic position and your alignment with the rest of your body. Having tight glutes feeds into tightening your pelvic floor.
1Don’t pretend your pelvic floor will improve its function by itself.
2 don’t think that it’s too late to get any improvement in your pelvic floor symptoms.
3 don’t spend too long, sitting without any awareness of your alignment, sitting with bad posture can exacerbate pelvic floor, tightness and pressure down into your pelvic floor
4 Avoid shallow breathing breathing where you lift your shoulders and ribs to get air in. And avoid belly breathing.
5 don’t despair, pelvic floor symptoms are deeply personal and can suck the joy out of life. There are simple, effective movements that you can learn to reduce your symptoms.
My name is Brigid Pearse, I am a Pilates teacher, movement coach, an ex-dancer and a mum. I love to help people get to know the body you have so you can move well for life.