In this article, Claire Baker explains the basics of how the pelvic floor functions during breathing and how it is important to relax and encourage mobility in the pelvic floor, as this can help with issues such as back pain, hip/leg pain, and constipation. She provides an exercise that individuals can do to allow the pelvic floor to stretch, by practicing a large expanding inhale and holding it for several seconds. Finally, Claire Baker encourages readers to reach out to her if they have further questions and to stay tuned for the next article in the Pelvic Health Fun Facts series.
Pelvic Floor Fun Facts
Hello everyone! Thanks for jumping into our first article of many in regards to Pelvic Floor Fun Facts. If we haven’t met yet, I’m Claire Baker a Certified Personal Trainer and within the past two years I’ve received a Pre-Postnatal Exercise Specialist Certification as well. Discussing and educating our members about the pelvic floor is not taboo to me, but instead of jumping on a soap box for 10 paragraphs, let’s start off the series with some basics. How the pelvic floor functions as we breathe and how to encourage pelvic floor mobility during purposeful breathing. Disclaimer, I am not a pelvic floor physical therapist. This article is meant to bring awareness and education around the pelvic floor and never meant to diagnose or treat any symptoms of pain.Similarly to how the respiratory diaphragm is shaped, the pelvic floor also relaxes and contracts throughout the breath cycle. As the respiratory diaphragm contracts, it draws downward towards to suck air into the lungs. To complement the increased abdominal pressure, the pelvic floor will relax and stretch downward. Inhaling relaxes the pelvic floor, the deeper and more expansive the breath the bigger the stretch. Adversely, when we exhale the respiratory diaphragm releases and draws upward to prepare for another inhale. *Exhaling shortens/contracts the pelvic floor. * For some bodies, the above statement is not all that simple, I’ll be building off of this concept and adding abdominal contractions and pelvic floor activation into next month’s article, Pelvic Floor Fun Facts: Article 2 Strengthening not Straining Alright friends, so why should we bring attention to relaxing the pelvic floor and encouraging mobility? Because the pelvic floor muscles form the base of the core, attaching to the pelvis and spine, if this area is tight it can lead to back pain, hip/leg pain and constipation. A simple do-it-yourself exercise to gauge your pelvic floor flexibility would be to practice taking big belly breaths, as I like to call them. The intention is to use a large expanding inhale to stretch the abdomen both out and down avoiding a deep breath upward into the chest and shoulders.
Let’s practice together!
First sit properly on your sits bones, feet flat on the floor, back away from the chair. Place one hand on your navel and the other on your collar bone. Draw a large breath in intending of moving the hand above your naval rather than the hand on your collar bone. Once you feel confident taking big belly breaths, because your belly gets big, begin to hold your breath for longer periods of time with a big belly, 5 seconds is plenty. Keeping the glutes relaxed, begin to expand your awareness to relax both out and downward while holding the big belly breath. The opposite would be to try and hold in a bowel movement. Encouraging the practice of building both awareness and flexibility of the pelvic floor has been known to help relieve chronic lower back pain and incontinence due to having a hypertonic pelvic floor. If you are curious to learn more and have a private conversation, stop me in the facility, reach out via email, or stay tuned for next month’s article, Pelvic Health Fun Facts: Part 2 Strengthening not Straining.
Contact Claire Baker for more information on how you can better build your pelvic floor.