Part Three: All work and no rest make for a very stressed Pelvic Floor!
Check out part two, here!
Did you know that many of the symptoms of a weak Pelvic Floor are the same for a tight Pelvic Floor?
I think we commonly associate weakness with slack or lengthened and stretched out muscles but tight muscles can be weak and lack integrity too. A tight or hypertonic Pelvic Floor does not mean it is strong, it means it doesn’t know how to release and function well. (to truly know if you’re weak or tight, one needs to see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist)
Along with some ill affects on our daily life pre or postnatally, at tight Pelvic Floor can make the pushing stage of labour much more work. Some women inadvertently “hold” the baby in during the pushing stage.
In the last posts we’ve spent time getting some awareness and engagement of our Pelvic Floor, now let’s look at giving it some down time.
These stretches should be appropriate for just about every one.
Lean forward with arms on a stable surface. This opens the distance between the pubic bone and the tailbone. Separate the legs, nice and wide and turn them to parallel. This opens the distance between your sit bones. This position in itself is a Pelvic Floor stretch. Use your core breath exercises and images from the last post to help you bring awareness to the Pelvic Floor.
Lunge gently from side to side. You should feel a stretch or lengthening feeling down your inner thigh and possibly through your Pelvic Floor. If you don’t feel any stretch, try separating your legs wider and be sure your tailbone is slightly lifted. Then try bending and stretching the knees together with the torso centered.
Breath easily and with a focus on stretching and opening the Pelvic floor. Keep your jaw and shoulders as relaxed as possible. This is a great example:
This should feel lovely and relaxing and is often a place women naturally want to labour. If you’re are pregnant, this is a great place to spend some time imaging the birth of your baby. Much like an athlete visualizes the positive outcome of their sport, you too can put some positives vibes out there!
Another option is to rest on a slightly elevated surface (a wedge or a soft bolster) with the legs butter-flied or up the wall. Alternatively, this can be done lying on your side with one leg up the wall and then turning over to do the same on the other side.
Since the Hip and Glute muscles often work together with the Pelvic Floor in most of our daily activities (we call them “co-recruiters”) it’s great to give them a stretch too. The “Figure Four” stretch standing, sitting or on your back is a great one.
To further release this area, the Franklin Method Pelvic Floor & Glute release with a semi firm ball is just the trick! Squeeze your glutes and press firmly onto the ball, then release. Do this several times. Then use the ball to massage the glutes, hip and hamstrings. When you remove the ball you should feel dropped and open on that side. Repeat on the second side.
**Be aware if you have piriformis syndrome or sciatica as this can put a lot of compression on the muscle and nerve. Stop if symptoms get worse**
See an example in this video https://www.instagram.com/p/BQnybb2h48n/?taken-by=ruthruttandoula