7 Things you ought to Know about your Pelvic Floor

What if you didn’t have any pelvic floor concerns?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Truth be told, I didn’t think much about my Pelvic floor before kids.

Then.. after twins.  Watch out. It became my life’s work.

By the end of this blog, you’ll understand where your pelvic floor is and how to release or contract it to reduce pain for years to come!

But first, where is your pelvic floor?

Pelvic Floor Muscles Female

For women, a pelvic floor is a group of muscles that forms a supportive sling in the lower pelvis.

Watch this video to learn more and see where your pelvic floor is!


#1 You can have a weak pelvic floor

Weak Pelvic Floor Muscle Symptoms

  • You’re experience leaking
  • Your back, knees, and hips are weak or sore
  • You feel no connection to your core
  • You may have an abdominal separation
  • You possibly had a vaginal birth

#2 You can have a tight pelvic floor

Pelvic Floor Pain

Signs of a tight pelvic floor

  • You feel like you cannot take a deep breath
  • You can’t release your abdominal area
  • Inserting a tampon, finger, or having sex is uncomfortable
  • You feel tense, all the time
  • You may have constipation
  • You may experience leaking

#3 You can relax your pelvic floor

How to relax your pelvic floor muscles

  • deep breathing
  • rolling or massaging your pelvic floor
  • using herbal remedies to reduce pain or spasms

#4 You can have pelvic floor dysfunction

Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

  • Urinary and/or fecal incontinence; leaking any amount at any time.  Including jumping, laughing, running, and during exercise.
  • Urgency: feeling like you have to go to the bathroom NOW or you may not make it.
  • Pain in the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) between the sacrum and the ilium and tailbone
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Uncontrollable gas
  • Aches and pains in the hips, back and neck
  • A feeling of heaviness or pulling in the pelvic organs, feeling like you’re going to fall out of the bottom
  • Pain or discomfort during sex, bowel movements, and urination

#5 You can be doing too many Kegels

Signs of overdoing Kegels

  • you have pain when you perform your Kegels
  • you still have incontinence/leaking even though you’re practicing your Kegels
  • you have pain with insertion

So, How long does it take to strengthen your pelvic floor

It can take about 6-8 weeks to strengthen your pelvic floor.  But! Keep in mind, it takes more than pelvic floor exercises to reduce bladder leaking!

#6 Your gut health can affect your pelvic floor health

If you struggle with Dysbiosis or constipation your gut health will be disrupted.  When you have poor gut health or inflammation, you’ll feel it in your pelvic floor.

Recurring UTI’s? Your monthly Advil? These medications affect your gut health and therefore disrupt your digestion creating Cystitis and pelvic inflammation.

This can all change when we reduce your daily medications.

#7 Your pelvic floor helps “fix” diastasis recti

Did you know you CAN do sit-ups again after having a diastasis recti? But first, you’ll want to learn HOW to engage your pelvic floor.  Your pelvic floor helps “fix” diastasis recti but tightening the gap.

Conclusion

Your pelvic floor can be your source of pain or pleasure. By stretching and strengthening these muscles, you’ll have fewer back pain episodes, less pelvic pain, heal diastasis recti and reduce your risk of a hernia!

Your digestion and gut health also contribute to your pelvic floor health. By reducing your medications, you’ll improve your gut health and save your pelvic floor for years to come!

Have questions? Ask below and I’ll get back to you.

Diastasis Recti Exercises

Wondering what are the best exercises for diastasis recti?

Watch these videos to tighten the gap of your abdominal separation.

But first, how big is your separation? Watch this video to see how wide your gap is.

#1 Diastasis recti finger test


 

#2 – #1 Diastasis recti exercise

Practice this 10-100x daily to tighten your gap.


#3 Pelvic Floor Exercises

Learning how to engage your pelvic floor is valuable to healing your diastasis recti.


#4 Diastasis recti treatment

Practice this workout most days of the week to strengthen your core.

 


#5 Diastasis recti posture

Notice your posture every day.  Are you sticking your hips out? Practice this alignment daily.


#6 3 Exercises to avoid with diastasis recti

Conclusion

Alignment, diet, breathing and pelvic floor engagement are all important in healing your abdominal separation.  Practice these exercises on most days of the week to tighten the gap without surgery.

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6 Ways To Fix Diastasis Recti

6 Ways To Fix Diastasis Recti

I pulled up my shirt and peeked in the mirror.

Twelve months after birthing twins, I still looked three months pregnant.

My six-week postpartum visit with the doctor had not been reassuring. I came in worried about the pressure in my pelvic floor and expanding belly, but she just said, “Everything looks fine.”

I thought I’d feel normal again before too long, but here we were a year later. I was still struggling with toning my core, pelvic pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. I did not feel like myself.

And the worst part was, I felt like I ought to know better. I had been teaching Pilates and fitness classes for thirteen years, and training other instructors in how to teach postnatal clients for almost as long.

I knew the mechanics of the pelvic floor and abdominals, but I still had no clue how to heal my postpartum body.

I knew I needed more than Pilates, yoga and strength training, suggested by a friend; I reached out to a physiotherapist Jessie Mundell, creator of Core & Floor Restore.

I also signed up for The Prenatal Client with Debbie Goodman, MSPT. They both opened my eyes to postpartum physical therapy.

When I finally became brave enough to touch my stomach, I realized I had a gaping two fingers-width separation. The tissue was soft, and sit-ups and my poor diet made my stomach stick out more. Honestly, I was disgusted and determined to fix it.

What is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti: A musculoskeletal injury, where the rectus abdominis stretches at the connective tissue, {the linea alba – a collagen cord that runs from the bottom of your sternum to the front of your pelvis} leaving a weakness in your core.

This superficial stomach muscle {rectus abdominis} has always been separated into right and left halves, but with a diastasis recti diagnosis, it is based on a 2.7 cm distance between the rectus abdmonis halves.

If your space is less than this and still feels unnatural to you, no worries, you can still benefit and decrease the area with my suggestions below.

Diastasis recti occur because of undo pressure and poor body alignment.

It wasn’t just about what I saw in the mirror. Repairing my diastasis recti, I knew, would help me stand stronger, tone my core and reduce my bloating. Here’s how I did it — and how you can too.

Diastasis Recti Exercises

 

1. Diastasis recti belt

I began wearing a diastasis rehab splint, which is like a big Ace bandage for your tummy. (Here’s the one I used, from the Tupler Technique.) A friend suggested it to me, and although it can be uncomfortable, it supported my core and reminded me to draw in my abdominals when I was caring for the twins and jumping out of bed when they cried in the middle of the night. I wore it day and night for six weeks.

Keep in mind>>> The splint does not replace the necessary exercises you need to do to heal your connective tissue, but it helps bring support when you are caring for your family. 

2. Diastasis recti movement

The brace helps to close the gap between your abdominal muscles, but it also made me more mindful of how I moved — especially how I got out of bed. For most of that first year, the cries of my babies startled me so much that I jack-knifed myself up and out of bed when they needed me. But that movement pushes your core out, which can weaken your pelvic floor and make diastasis rectus worse.

With the brace on, I began rolling to one side and gently pushing myself up. This movement protects your core because you are not putting undue pressure on your rectus abdominus, which is already weakened due to the separation.

This rolling to the side is how I recommend all moms get out of bed and off the floor. Forever.

3. Diastasis recti alignment

I first noticed I was gripping my tush when I was doing dishes for hours on end. The pain was excruciating; I now know the piriformis tightens to support a weakened pelvic floor. By rolling the piriformis with the Franklin Massage balls, I was able to release the hip tension I was experiencing and reduce my pain. Lots of moms tuck or squeeze their glute muscles when they hold their kids; you might not even realize you do it but pay attention the next time you pick up a little one. Tucking the glutes brings your pelvis into a posterior tilt, which tightens your hip muscles and weakens your pelvic floor.

This posture is very common with diastasis recti.

Try to release your tush muscles and draw your ribs over your hips when standing. Use a massage ball to loosen the piriformis, so the pelvic floor muscles can do their job of supporting your core and pelvic floor.

This rolling is a great thing to do when you’re watching TV in the evening — you’ll release all the tension that builds up in those muscles when you’re chasing after kids all day long. See how here. 

4. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

I’ve taught pelvic floor engagement for over thirteen years, but what I didn’t realize is how vital the pelvic area is and how important it is to lengthen and strengthen your pelvic floor with many different types of contractions. Your pelvic floor, an intricate web of over twenty-two muscles supporting your internal organs and your low back and is the foundation of a healthy core.

It’s important to strengthen it when healing Diastasis recti because the pelvic floor brings your pelvis into better pelvic alignment, reducing the tension placed on the linea alba. How do you engage your pelvic floor? {Listen to this audio}

A student once said; “It’s like closing both exits.” Lift and squeeze the pelvic muscles surrounding the vaginal and anal opening; It’s a figure 8 shape, and you should feel a tightening from front to back. Contract the pelvic floor 10x quick {known as quick flicks} and then lift and hold the pelvic floor for a count of 10. Repeat daily.

5. Skip the Sit-Ups

Whenever I did crunches in the first year after my twins were born, I noticed my ab muscles bulging out instead of curling in — the exact opposite of what I wanted them to do! Crunches and sit-ups place too much pressure on your core and pelvic floor muscles when they are weak.

This undo stress, causes poor posture when your standing and sitting for long periods of time.

👉You will be able to do sit-ups again, once you’ll learn HOW to engage your pelvic floor. Be patient.

Each pregnancy is different and your recovery can be different from everyone else. 

When you can engage your pelvic floor and transversus, you will be able to do crunches and planks again! Practice this “crunch-free” workout.

 

6. Diastasis recti bloating

Barely sleeping for two years and living on Guinness for dinner was not one of my best moments in life. The sleep deprivation led to a poor diet and had me reaching for coffee and sweets throughout the day for energy. I was practicing the right exercises, but my stomach was still bloated, and digestion was slow.

A healthy gut and easy digestion are imperative to healing the linea alba, and constipation creates increased pressure in the abdomen, weakening this area causing a “pooching” of the core.

Eliminating inflammatory foods like gluten, alcohol, and dairy can help to speed the recovery by reducing inflammation and easing digestion. Whool-foods, healthy proteins and lots of water, along with a daily multi-vitamin and a probiotic can help repair digestive dysfunction from childbirth.

“The diastasis recti is just a symptom- a sign of poor mechanical nutrition.” -Katy Bowen

My twins are five years old now, and while I still have a slight separation of my abdominal muscles, the connective tissue is healthy, and I no longer have pressure on my pelvic floor or core.

Conclusion

These six steps; supporting your core, rolling over, untuck your tush, engage your pelvic floor, skip sit-ups, and diet can help close the gap and help you gain valuable inner strength to last a lifetime!

Have questions? Comment below.

Warmly, Tara

Want to learn more? Join my online course: Pelvic Pow-HER: www.pelvicpowher.com

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