The biggest mistake I see women make with their pelvic floor (and what you need to do instead)
Every time I run a course I get to meet a new bunch of gorgeous mums. The first 20 minutes always goes the same way – a quick little anatomy lesson, and a step by step guide to how to correctly activate and then use the core and pelvic floor muscles.
What surprised me when I started this process with the women I work with, is how many women are being given (can I say this?) bad advice.
Most women have been taught to treat their pelvic floor like a single muscle.
They are given words like “clench” and “pull” and are told to aim for strength (clench as hard as you can), endurance (clench as long as you can) and power (clench as quick as you can).
None of these work well in my clinical experience.
The pelvic floor is not a single strength muscle (these are called phasic muscles).
It is a large group of postural muscles meant to provide support and know how to co-work with the rest of the body. They are part of a large team – they are not the entire team.
So these women are doing the work (clenching hard, long and quick) – they are putting in the time – and yet not seeing much of a change. No wonder they’re frustrated with exercise!
Doing lots of those repetitions makes you good at doing those repetitions. It doesn’t make you any stronger through your back or butt or core. It doesn’t mean you can now run without a leak.
And “clenching” (which most of us have been told to do at some point ) strong and long, can actually create shortened muscles, trigger points, and an irritated, hypertonic pelvic floor.
When women learn co-ordination through the pelvic floor and entire core, in a variety of sequences, results are quick, even if they’ve been struggling with it for years. I see incontinence disappear in my phase 1 course (7 weeks long) every single time I run it.
Here’s what you need to incorporate with pelvic floor activation (5 steps):
1 – The diaphragmatic breath:
Learn how to belly/rib cage breathe
2 – The multifidus which stabilises the spine:
The alternating pointer is a fantastic place to start
3 – The transverse abdominis (deep abdominal muscle):
Start with learning how to activate while doing a pelvic tilt
4 – Waking up your butt muscles:
A bridge exercise is a great place to start
5- The three phases of abdominal separation healing (more info on these coming soon):
1 – close the gap (this is not always a physical closing but a measure of tone)
2 – reinforce the tissue so it doesn’t come apart again
3 – apply resistance in a controlled way so you know it’s fully healed
There is a phase 1 and a phase 2 course starting mid July in Collingwood.
4 of the 5 steps I mentioned above we cover in the first half an hour of the very first session (of a 7 week course).
If you’re pelvic floor and core are not where you want them to be, or if there are exercises you are unable to do because of them, or if you still have some jelly belly, I highly recommend coming along. You won’t know yourself by the end. These courses are unlike anything else out there right now.
The link is here – www.stableandstrong.com.au/classes/
In the meantime, give the 5 steps above a go, and if you need a helping hand, you know where to find me!