As I’ve mentioned before, I’m highly interested in the pelvic floor. I treat pelvic floor conditions in the clinic every day. How did I get involved with this? Well, I had them. Forgive me for being totally and brutally honest, but, I had stress incontinence (leaked with performance of heavy activity that required exertion…sneezing/coughing/jumping) with dancing and running, and Lord forbid if I ever tried to lift heavy, but I also had pain during intercourse. This left me feeling confused, afraid to talk about it, and also fearful of what others might think if I did. I’m not ashamed to share this anymore because
1) It’s been treated. IT CAN BE HELPED! I’m totally fine now and I can help other women with the same kinds of impairments.
2) I am able to relate to my patients when it comes to pelvic floor impairments, not just a physical understanding, but an emotional one as well. This helps me build stronger relationships.
3) That’s where the problem is. PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT IT. Why? It’s natural. I’m not talking about my sex life, I’m not giving details. We talk about pulled hamstrings, and back pain but why not pelvic floor? It’s a muscle and part of our body too!!
Physical Therapists are musculoskeletal experts and those of us with further training take on the task of treating the pelvic floor.
For this post, I’m not just trying to talk about my beliefs on women being able to talk about some issues, but I’m also wanting to share some stretches that I do daily and that I share with my patients who are experiencing pelvic pain. Now, these can be used for back pain, hip pain, etc. But if you have a dysfunction that ends up causing more pain with these stretches, PLEASE get in to see a physical therapist. If it is specific to the pelvic floor, find a good pelvic floor PT. I’d love to help you search for one if you’d just ask!
This is my all time favorite stretch, like ever. I do this one often. If you are into Yoga you are familiar with this! Try to perform this stretch at least one time per day, and hold for upwards of 1 minute (you can start with holding less time and go into holding more time…this is just a recommendation).
If it is too much of a stretch to grab the feet, grab behind the knees. Make sure you are breathing as well!! This stretches your outer hips, inner groin area, low back, and even your shoulders. Make sure all of your muscles are relaxed during the stretch. They call this happy baby for a reason!!
This next one is a wonderful stretch for anyone and has tons of variations, the figure 4. I find this is the easiest way to do it without causing any tension or cheating anywhere else. If you are unable to reach the back of your knee, use a towel around it and pull towards you. If you get your ankle onto the opposite knee and feel a stretch already, hold it there. Don’t progress until your body is ready to do so! This one stretches your hip muscles all around! Great for a morning routine to get going!!
This next one always makes me want to fall asleep, I guess that’s why it’s called Child’s Pose. This one you can move your hips and body around a little bit in order to figure out where exactly you want the stretch. I utilize this one for low back stretching, hip stretching (can be all sides depending on how you move into it), and I also use this for pelvic floor relaxation training as well as diaphragmatic breathing practice.
Notice her knees are not together.
The last one I want to show you that I’ve seen immense success with is the Frog Pose. I use the modification, but will show both here. The modification is on your back with your knees apart. This allows for a wonderful position to meditate or to do some deep breathing exercises while stretching the inside of your hips.
This is the more advanced version. Don’t try this one if it causes too much pain, however it is a great goal to have to improve your flexibility (or make you cry, depends on what you’re going for.)
As I said before, this is not an end all be all list of stretches. You should get a full assessment if you feel you need some assistance in determining what works for you. The reason I chose the above muscle groups are due to the close proximity they have to the pelvic floor (as seen below). It’s important to follow up stretches with proper strengthening and functional activities.
Please reach out with any questions you might have! I plan to post more about my expertise in this area in the near future!