I take a full-body approach to improving pelvic floor function and when assessing someone, I always start with the foot, and work my way upwards from there.
I haven’t prescribed a Kegel in my classes (those “squeeze and release” and “draw up and hold” exercises) for around 4 years now for a few reasons:
- often my first time pregnant clients don’t know what the heck they’re supposed to be doing, and
- traditional pelvic floor exercises don’t work for every man/woman with pelvic floor weakness (and I have the research to back that statement up)
Here are my top 3 non-traditional pelvic floor exercises you can do at home to help improve pelvic floor health:
So, if you’ve been wearing heeled footwear, you may just find that the calf muscle has shortened, passively over time due to always having a raise underneath the heel of your foot.
NB – most sports trainers and some ballet flats have a hidden heel or a super high heel within the factory made insole, by the way so check them out if you don’t believe me.
If your calves are tight, you will lack range of movement/mobility in your ankle which has a knock-on effect to your gait, and how your pelvis and pelvic floor functions as you go about your day.
So my message is clear: get out of heeled shoes, walk around in bare feet at home to increase foot mobility, and stretch out your calf muscles.
Your hamstrings at the backs of your legs are often chronically tight through excessive sitting and the very sedentary nature of our lives nowadays.
If these muscles are tight, they’ll pull the back of your pelvis down towards your heels, and attribute to a tight pelvic floor.
A tight pelvic floor generally also attributes to a weak/dysfunctional pelvic floor, and the number one best way to gain strength and length into your pelvic floor is to release your hamstrings.
So, as the bare minimum, try stretching out your hamstrings as often as you can.
If you read a recent newsletter from me about “poking your bum out” when bending forwards/down to pick something up, I need you to do this consistently, every time, so that it becomes normal practise.
So my message here is clear: The more that you tip forwards at the hips, the more you open up your pelvic floor at the back, and indeed lengthen the backs of your legs.
(and, can I point out, the more you move in this manner in your day-to-day life, bending down to pick something up off the floor, the more you decrease the load on your lumbar spine. So, if you’re getting lower back pain a lot when bending forwards, re-read that paragraph above, ok?)
When standing upright at the change table, kitchen counter, bathroom sink etc, you’ll want to stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointed forwards and bodyweight backed up over your ankles.
Most people, when they have a contraption in front of them like a desk, table or counter will start to lean/pitch their pelvic weight towards that object.
The more you do this, the more load you’re putting on the spine, and it can really throw off what’s happening the pelvis too.
If you’re prone to tucking your tailbone under in standing, this “tuck” will be increased the more you wear your pelvis out in front of you.
So my message here is clear: Stand and walk around with your pelvic weight backed up over your ankle bones, and the only way you’re going to be able to do that is by:
a) getting out of heeled shoes, and
b) lengthening your hamstrings
Can you see the connection now?
It’s really interesting to note that once you start to learn how to hold yourself, you start observing others around you randomly on the street etc and it starts to make your eyes bleed a little.
If you have pelvic floor issues yourself, or are concerned that during your pregnancy, you’re not doing enough exercise to increase your chances of giving birth naturally, you have a few options:
Book on my Mummies and Buggies classes where you not only get a great workout that’s safe for your pelvic floor, but you also get to bring baby with you.
Feel as though you need specialist attention for your pelvic floor?
Did you know I have a pelvic floor exercise class on my timetable?
Check out Your Pelvic Matters here where you’ll learn the exact exercises you should be doing on a regular basis to help rehab your pelvic floor.
Email me back if you have any questions.
Have a great week.