Are you ready to step into another week of learning. This week is mini blog post about some elements other than a kegel, that are necessary for a healthy pelvic floor. Like I suggested last week in my intro post, your breath is one of those elements. It goes beyond just breathing in and out. But really has more to do with how your are coordinating your breath with activity, utilizing the correct muscles to assist with inhale and exhale and abdominal pressure management. In an earlier post, we talked about the benefits of breathing and how to get a better breath by focusing on the exhale.
Now it’s time to be more specific about how the breath affects the pelvic floor. Can you picture in your mind the essence of your core? Respiratory diaphragm sitting under the rib cage, abdominal muscles in the front, back muscles (in the back of course), and your pelvic floor sitting like a hammock between your pelvic bones. The pelvic floor runs from the pubic symphysis (joint) in the front of the pelvis to the tailbone in the back. All the sides of our cylinder are accounted for. Well, think of the top and the bottom of our cylinders functioning in symmetry, like a piston. So now as you begin to breathe in, deeply bringing air into the lower rib cage and feeling it expand outward in all directions, the respiratory diaphragm moves downward. It changes shape from a dome-like muscle to a flat muscle during inhalation. Here is where the pelvic floor comes in. In order to give a little space for your insides to move around while the top of the cylinder is flattening, the pelvic floor also drops ever so slightly during your breath in, matching the movement of your respiratory diaphragm. When you exhale, the respiratory diaphragm can ascend again back into its dome shape under the lungs and the pelvic floor elevates upward back to its resting position. Unison, symmetry, coordination. At least that is how it should work.
When that coordination of breathing breaks down and the pelvic floor becomes unresponsive to the movement of the respiratory diaphragm or moves out sync, that is when we can see a break down in the function of the pelvic floor, or any other part of the core for that matter. In terms of the pelvic floor, this may look like incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or constipation, just to name a few.
Here is what to do about it: Practice!
- Sit comfortably supported in a semi-firm chair. Do your best to be in a neutral spine, not slumped or overly arched.
- Pay attention to the pressure on your sit bones.
- Practice taking a full breath in slowly, allowing the rib cage and belly to slightly expand.
- Can you feel the pressure increase just a little between the sit bones?
- As you exhale, your belly should naturally draw inward. The more forced the exhale, the more it draws inward. I like to have my clients imagine they are blowing out candles or fogging up a mirror that is on the other side of the room.
- Do you feel the tension in the belly as well as in the pelvis? Almost like a mini-kegel?
- Inhale again, allowing the abdominal wall and pelvic floor to relax.
- Repeat in rhythm with your breath.
Get comfortable feeling this and then join me back here next week to put it into movement, as we look at some other elements that are important for a healthy pelvic floor.