EASY PEASY PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
It has now been 15 months since I had my son and I have been back teaching and working with pregnant ladies and new mums for 6 months. I have adopted a full body approach to improve my own pelvic floor dysfunction and also when assessing clients.
Starting with the feet, I work my way up the body to the top of the head. When I first had my son, I wrote a blog post about how I was shocked that the midwife just told me to squeeze and release my pelvic floor to improve it. I haven’t prescribed these exercises for years in my pregnancy class or post natal.
The reason being:
Most women have no idea if they are actually squeezing the right muscle and lots of eye brows seem to get a workout when trying to locate this muscle. These exercises don’t necessarily work for all men and women
Here are three simple non traditional pelvic floor exercises you can do to improve your pelvic floor health after birth or even whilst you are pregnant.
Heeled shoes!! Take a look at your shoes, even if you have been wearing sports trainers lots of these shoes have a slightly raised heel. What this does passively over time is makes your calf muscle shorten due to always having a raise underneath the heel of your foot. Your weight is ever so slightly being pushed forwards onto your toes. If your calves do feel tight, this will create a lack of movement/mobility in your ankle which has a knock-on effect to your gait, (for example check out your stride when walking with baby in pram/ buggy) which in turn effects how your pelvis and pelvic floor function as you go about your day.
Try and walk round at home barefoot as much as you can. I know we live in Scotland and it’s cold. Even just a little in the morning and at night will help to increase foot mobility and stretch out the calf muscles.
Our hamstrings at the back of our legs are extremely tight. Through excessive sitting in a sedentary desk job, driving and feeding baby.
If our hamstring muscles are tight, we tend to tuck our tailbone under towards our heels which then attributes to a tight, short pelvic floor.
This in turn leads to a weak pelvic floor dysfunction. The best way to gain strength and lengthen the pelvic floor is to release these incredibly tight hamstrings.
So try and stretch out the hamstrings as often as you can throughout the day. Every time you bend down to pick up a toy or something off the floor…oh yes your baby!! Stick your bum out, lift your tailbone up.
Why?The more you tip forwards at the hips the more you open up your pelvic floor and lengthen the back of your legs. Be mindful of not pushing your knees over your toes, keep your knees in line with your ankles.
The more you do this throughout the day, the more you will decrease the load on your lumbar spine. If you are getting low back pain when you are bending forward, remember to stick your bum out and lift your tailbone.
When standing upright changing baby, or cooking dinner at the sink…etc I want you to stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointed forwards and bodyweight backed up over your ankles. Imagine your feet like the wheels on a car going forwards. Most people, when they have a a piece of furniture or work top in front of them will start to lean their pelvic weight towards that counter/ change table etc. Similarly this links back to exercise 1 and the information about wearing heeled shoes, again the weight is moving towards the toes.
To summarise, the more you do this leaning forward movement, the more load you’re putting on the lumbar spine, and it can really throw off what’s happening to the pelvis too. If you’re someone who does tend to tuck your tailbone under in standing, this “tucking” will be increased the more you wear your pelvis out in front of you and the more the weight is pushed forwards.
Over the next few days, try standing and walking around with your pelvic weight backed up over your ankle bones. Remember the only way you’re going to be able to do that is by:
a) Spending some time walking bare foot in the house
b) Try wearing shoes with a negative heel as much as you can
c) Lengthening your hamstrings
If you are a new mum and you want to learn more about strengthening your pelvic floor and abdominals using a full body approach rather than spot treatment, I offer 1-1 post natal sessions or you can join our next Mum and Baby class starting Wednesday 10th April.