I’m by no means a specialist, and if it’s a subject you’re interested in, I would definitely recommend the work of biomechanist Katy Bowman who has a wealth of information to share.
But I would say is this: Just as with everything else in life, balance is the key. Nothing is inherently bad, but the frequency with which you do it, and what you are complimenting it with (or not), can set you up for trouble. For example, should you Kegel? Are Kegels bad? Maybe and no. But ask yourself this: do you know what’s going on down there? Is your pelvic floor weak? Perhaps it’s too strong? Do you have urinary incontinence when you sneeze, walk, run, jump?
In a nutshell, a healthy pelvic floor (PF) is one that is not only strong, but that is also able to release. Imagine your quadratus lumborum contracted all day long (as in when you sit cross legged all day long) – eventually your lower back may give you some feedback you may not like. It’s the same with the PF; so what can you do? Perhaps consulting a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic floor health is a good first step. He or she will be able to assess the quality of tone of your PF and help you determine the best course of action.
But for now, here are a few helpful tips:
- Recapture your posture – how you stand not only affects which muscles switch on, but also how you breathe. See part one of Yoga Tune Up® for Mamahood to learn how to achieve impeccable posture that will help your PF find the right amount of tone – for example if you live in a permanent state of tucking, you may find that your PF is hypertonic.
- Ditch the heels – OK so I did say that nothing is inherently bad – but a few things are silly, like wearing heels! Not that you should forego them forever, but be mindful of how often you wear them. They will affect your posture and will not only ruin your feet but also change the alignment of your pelvis, and thus the tonicity of the pelvic floor over time.
- Instead of adopting a local approach by focusing solely on strengthening your PF, act more globally by strengthening the surrounding tissues. For example, include squats, transverse ab exercises and back work into your routine.
- In addition to strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, back, etc., it’s also a good idea to release those tissues – again finding balance. If your PF is hypertonic, muscles in the vicinity of your PF may also feel restricted. I cannot recommend the YTU hip sequence enough (on the floor or at the wall), the adductor release (I love to do it with an ALPHA ball), as well as using any YTU ball around the ischial tuberosities. Another fantastic way to strengthen and release the entire area is the leg stretch series. There is wonderful rendition of the series on Jill Miller’s Creative Live webinar for a healthy pregnancy. A lot of bang for your buck!
This concludes my series on Yoga Tune Up® for mamahood! – I’ll see you on the other side!