Sure, you know all about Kegels and the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor. But did you know that it’s just as important to know how to relax the pelvic floor? Keep reading for why this is such an important concept and learn how to do it.
WHAT IS THE PELVIC FLOOR AND WHY SHOULD I RELAX IT?
The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that acts as a sling, supporting your bladder, bowel, and uterus. It is responsible for helping you control your bladder and bowel, and also plays a role in sexual intercourse. Many women experience pelvic floor issues, such as incontinence, as a result of childbirth, obesity, chronic constipation, or other strains put on the pelvic floor. Often, a weakening of the pelvic floor causes these issues, but did you know that having a pelvic floor that is too tense can also create problems? Incontinence, trouble emptying your bladder, and even pain during sex can be signs of a pelvic floor that is too tense.
Luckily, pelvic floor tension is a problem that you can do something about. Below are some simple exercises that may help you to relax your pelvic floor muscles. These can all be done in your home, discreetly, and with no equipment necessary.
Note: It is always recommended to consult a pelvic floor physical therapist prior to performing exercises related to the pelvic floor. A physical therapist can provide you with a proper diagnosis and put you on a custom treatment plan just for you! Find a physical therapist in your area here!
DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING FOR PELVIC FLOOR RELAXATION:
The diaphragm works in synergy with the pelvic floor and helps to promote muscle relaxation. This is important for decreasing pain and promoting optimal muscle function.
- Place one hand on your chest and another hand on your belly, just below your rib cage.
- Take a deep breath in to the count of three, and then exhale to the count of four.
- When you inhale, your pelvic floor relaxes, and as you exhale, your pelvic floor returns to its resting state.
- Practice this breathing for 5-10 minutes each day.
Note: You’ll know that you are using your diaphragm correctly if you feel the hand on your belly rise and fall.
PELVIC GIRDLE STRETCHES FOR PELVIC FLOOR RELAXATION
All of the following positions are great for practicing diaphragmatic breathing!
HAPPY BABY POSE:
- Lie on your back.
- Open your knees wider than your chest and bring them up towards your armpits. You may hold your legs with your arms behind your knees or at your ankles, but try to keep your ankles over your knees.
- You can either hold this position or gently rock on your back from side to side
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching.
- Gently bow forward, moving your torso downwards, between your thighs. Keep your arms stretched out long and in front of you.
- Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together and knees out to the sides.
- This should be a relaxing position. If you feel a pulling along your inner thighs or in your pubic bones, place pillows under your knees for support.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Place your left ankle on your right knee, like a figure four.
- Pull your right thigh toward your chest to feel a stretch on the outside of your left hip.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
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