The pelvic floor plays a huge role in our bodies. The muscles of the pelvic floor act as a hammock to hold up key organs (think your bladder, bowel and uterus). The pelvic floor works with your ab muscles and back to stabilize your spine. And the pelvic floor muscles are important for sexual function too, providing support for men with erectile functioning and ejaculation and providing arousal for women. For women who are pregnant, the pelvic floor supports the growing baby.
Unfortunately, too few of us pay attention to this powerhouse group of muscles until it’s too late. Over time, we can cause damage to our pelvic floors if not properly cared for. The good news is that the pelvic floor is made up of a web of muscles, and just like any other muscle in the body, it can be strengthened and trained to perform optimally.
Your Posture Is Important When Maintaining Pelvic Floor Health
There are many different workouts that focus on increasing pelvic floor strength, but one of our favorite ways to do it simply involves standing up straight. That’s right – posture – both standing and sitting – can have a direct effect on how your pelvic floor functions, and learning to sit and stand the right way can ensure that you’re helping your pelvic floor perform optimally and efficiently, as opposed to worsening potential problems like urinary incontinence.
How does posture help the pelvic floor? When you sit in a slouched position, you’re activating your pelvic floor far less than when sitting or standing tall.
You’re also not activating your transverse abdominal muscles – the ones that live deep within your lower abdomen and work with the pelvic floor to control your bladder.
Finally, your breathing suffers and your diaphragm, as well as your pelvic floor, is not able to move up and down as they normally would when taking a deep belly breath. This inhibits the natural movement of the pelvic floor muscles and can cause them to be stiff, and therefore, weak, leading to all sorts of potential problems like pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, or pelvic pain.
So, how should you be sitting or standing? Follow the tips outlined below.
Sit on the edge of a chair or stool (away from the back of the chair so you’re not using it for support)
Position your feet hip width apart
Balance your weight evenly between your sit bones (sitting on the edge of the chair helps with this)
Hold your head up as if a string is pulling you up.
Tuck your chin in slightly
Relax your head and neck
Lengthen your spine
Stand with your feet hip width apart
Balance your weight evenly between your feet
Stand up straight, elongating your body and spine, as if a string is pulling the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Tuck in your chin slightly
Relax your head and neck
Roll your shoulders back and down
The goal for both standing and sitting is to properly stack your ankle, knee, hip and shoulders. Don’t over-exaggerate the curve of your back – try to stand with a neutral spine, with everything balanced on top of each other. This will allow your body, and your pelvic floor, to operate optimally and efficiently.