If you are suffering embarrassing ‘oops’ moments, urinary incontinence, prolapse or other pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms there is a lot more to restoring function to your pelvic floor than kegels. There is no quick fix and it involves taking a whole-body approach and changing up some of your lifestyle habits that may be contributing to your pelvic floor issues.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a symptom of poor postural and lifestyle habits. So, working on getting your body into optimal alignment is the aim of any pelvic floor restoration programme.
Poor postural habits are picked up through life for many reasons and can cause strain and pressure on your pelvic floor – it is the build up of this strain and pressure that creates pelvic floor dysfunction.
You need to make sure you are not thrusting your hips or
your chest forward. Both these impact on the function of your pelvic floor. Working
on bringing your pelvis and your chest back into alignment can feel strange at
first, but awareness and little adjustments regularly can reap huge rewards.
One great tip that helps you work on your alignment while you are busy with other things is to bolster your pelvis while you are sitting. A rolled towel just under your sitting bones will automatically tilt your pelvis into alignment, reducing pressure on your pelvic floor as well as relieving lower back pain.
2) Breathing mechanics
Your diaphragm and pelvic floor are connected so improving
your breathing is important to creating a better functioning pelvic floor. So
many times people breathe into their bellies – so your stomach rises and falls
with each inhale and exhale. This creates internal pressure on your pelvic
floor, causing weakness and more chance of dysfunction. Practice breathing by allowing
your ribs to expand and contract with each inhale and exhale.
3) Release, lengthen and strengthen muscles.
Your pelvic floor strengthening programme needs to take a whole-body approach to rehabilitation It is not just your pelvic floor that needs strengthening (in fact it may well be your symptoms arise from an overtight pelvic floor) you need to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, calves and core to help to support your pelvic floor. You need to remember that keeping good alignment whilst doing your exercises is important so that you are not creating added pressure to your pelvic floor – so not thrusting your chest or tucking your pelvis, being aware of where your body is right now and working from there, rather than trying to do much too soon.
Wearing shoes with a heel, even a slight one, pushes you
into a posture where your hips are thrust forward. This means that every time
you are wearing your shoes you are compromising the function of your pelvic
floor. Working towards wearing shoes with no heel at all is the aim, again take
it slowly – your body is used to the height of the heels you wear, so going too
quickly from high heels to none at all will cause you strain to muscles and
joints. As you work on lengthening your calves and mobilising your ankles your
body will be better prepared to reduce heel height.
5) Movement breaks
Rehabilitation does not stop when you leave class. Thinking
about what you do in your daily life is important when restoring function to
your pelvic floor. Your body adapts to what you do most often, so if your daily
habits encourage pelvic tucking and thrusting out your chest, you will need to
make simple changes.
For example adding in a 2 minute walk every half hour will give you enormous benefits and increase your concentration levels too. Creating a standing workstation so you can swap between standing and sitting and add in a calf stretch while you are standing.
My 12 week Pelvic Floor Restore programme will guide you through all the corrective exercises and lifestyle changes you need to make to strengthen your pelvic floor along with your whole body. If you aren’t ready to sign up here is a video of 6 tips to restoring function to your pelvic floor. If you would like to sign on to the next course of Pelvic Floor Restore which starts on January 9th then email me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t make this date then sign up to my newsletter to be kept informed of when the next course is starting or to find out when my online pelvic floor course is available.
Rosie Dhoopun is a Movement Teacher specialising in pregnancy and postpartum exercise and wellness.
She runs a Pelvic Floor Restore programme, birth preparation classes, postpartum movement classes and online classes.