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.

5 Steps To Stop Stress & Urge Incontinence

5 Steps To Stop Stress & Urge Incontinence

 “Don’t make me laugh, I”ll pee my pants!”, Is an expression heard amongst women?

If you’ve experienced pregnancy, surgeries, or menopause, you can probably relate to this.

Beyond Kegels states:

Twenty-five to thirty percent of adults 25-55 years old has experienced bowel and bladder problems at some time of their life.”

This percentage increases by 10% in adults sixty-five or older and even children have nighttime wetting.

I’ve witnessed this myself with my child when we were transitioning pre-schools; fear and stress created constipation and led to bedwetting every single night for seven days.

“It’s just part of menopause; It’s part of getting old,” are other expressions we hear.

But is there any truth to it?


 

5 Steps to stop stress & urge incontinence

#1 Reduce Constipation
  • The pressure of constipation {and even excessive coughing} weakens the pelvic floor and decreases its ability to hold in urine. Try these tips to reduce constipation.
    • Increase your daily water consumption – up to 8 Glasses/day
    • Avoid coffee as much as you can (as they lead to dehydration)
    • Increase your fiber!  Reach for 20-35g/day (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans)
    • Reduce meat, cheese, and ice cream! These tend to cause constipation 
    • Walk 30 minutes a day
    • Use the bathroom at the first urge to eliminate
    • Use the toilet at a consistent time every day
    • Try Hara massage; massage your abdominals in a clockwise direction 
    • Add Flaxseed to your diet: Grind a cup of flaxseed and store in the refrigerator. 
      • Take 1 tbs. of ground flaxseed and add to your food daily.
      • Add Psyllium Seeds – Bowel movement can occur 6-12 hours after consumption.
      • Soak prunes or other dried fruit in water or apple juice until softened
    • Add Fruits like apples, pears, apricots, and cherries
    • Add Molasses to your food! This is a gentle laxative and high in iron

#2 Engage & Stretch Your Pelvic Floor

Where is your pelvic floor? Watch the video below to learn more. But keep in mind…

  • Your pelvic floor can be tight and cause leaking
  • Your pelvic floor can be weak and cause leaking
  • or both!
  • So we want to learn how to stretch AND strengthen your pelvic floor.  How? Watch this video 👇

#3 Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

What is that?

Diaphragmatic breathing is a deeper breath that allows the abdominals to relax. 

👉Think of breathing side by side like a bellow.  Let your abs go!!!

This regulates the pressure in the abdominal cavity and releases tension and tightness in the pelvic floor. 

Are you “gripping?”

Women say they feel tense or tight in their core and pelvic floor when they have incontinence. Diaphragmatic breathing releases this tension.

How do you practice this breathe?

  • 1. Begin by sitting on a hard chair or bench and pull your “flesh away” so you feel your sitz bones.  If you are on the floor sit high on blocks or a firm cushion.
  • 2. Inhale-Envision the diaphragm moving downward, the abdomen contents are displaced outwards and the pelvic floor bulges
  • 3. Practice 3 ways: put both hands on your ribs and breathe into your hands 3-4x, place hands on your belly and allow it to push into your hands 3-4x, and last place hands on your collarbone and feel your breathe rise above your heart.

#4 Reduce Your Stress

As your bladder fills up it sends nerve messages to the brain to tell it when to empty your bladder. 

When we “go to the bathroom, just in case”, we are actually decreasing the size of urine our bladder can hold therefore making the problem worse. 

By relaxing your nervous system, you can change the response your brain triggers when your bladder is full.

How do we relax our nervous system?

  • Meditate daily
  • Drink herbal teas
  • Add adaptogens to your diet
  • Exercises daily
  • Journal

#5 Try Homeopathy

Homeopathy is safe, gentle, and affordable and can be used with children and adults alike. 

The key to homeopathy is finding the right remedy for your specific symptoms. The theory “like cures like” implies you are seeking the specific remedy for your unique symptoms.   

Reducing constipation and using homeopathy helped my child during bedwetting.  Read about the remedies here.

Do you love natural remedies?

5 Herbal Remedies For Stress Incontinence

    • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)- Sweet and soothing for your urinary tract.  As this is known to increase your blood pressure, caution if you have high blood pressure. 
    • Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) or Marshmallow root- Known as a mucilaginous botanical, this soothes your digestion and urinary tract. 
    • Are you constipated? These botanicals can reduce constipation
      • Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale)
      • Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus), 
      • Senna Leaf and Pod (Cassia senna)- Use only after the first trimester of pregnancy and only for 1-2days.

Ready to learn more?

Join my FREE 5-Day Challenge

How to run, jump & cough without any leakage whatsoever – Create an exercise plan you love

 

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.

Ready to learn more?

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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

How I Healed My Abdominal Separation {a.k.a. diastasis recti}

How I Healed My Abdominal Separation {a.k.a. diastasis recti}

It’s frustrating to still look pregnant after having kids, isn’t it?

What if you could be stronger AFTER having children?

Picture this.. little to no back pain, your stomach doesn’t stick out and you don’t have any bloating.

That’s a crazy thought, isn’t it?

The point is, your body can heal after having children.  With the correct rehabilitative exercises, diet, and addressing your stress.

**But hang on… it’s not about closing the gap when you have abdominal separation, also known as diastasis recti.**

It’s about tightening the connective tissue BETWEEN your abdominal muscles and improving your breathing so that you have less back pain and greater strength for years to come.

How? Let me explain.

Here are a series of steps you can try to tighten your separation and reduce the pregnancy look.

Here’s what I want you to focus on:

#1 Diastasis Recti Breathing

A deep diaphragmatic breath can help modulate the amount of pressure INSIDE of your body.  Reducing your chances of hernia’s, bulging discs and pelvic floor dysfunction.

#2 Your Pelvic Floor

Your pelvic floor helps you activate your deep core muscles and supports your low back to reduce pain.  Your pelvic floor muscles are the secret connection to your core healing.

You see, the pelvic floor {those muscles below the belt} can help restore your core.  You may be holding tension in the muscles from a c-section or a perineal tear, and this tension needs to be released.

You also may be weak in your pelvic floor if you had a vaginal birth.

So, How do you know if you need pelvic floor exercises for your separation?

  • Your back goes out occasionally
  • You feel like you have doming in your abs with sit-ups
  • You have leaking once and a while:)
  • You squeeze your buttocks most of the day
  • You can’t connect to your center at all

#3 Diastasis Recti Bloating

It’s very common for women with diastasis recti to have a gut imbalance or discomfort with digestion.  You may find avoiding gluten and dairy helps, but this is not the answer!

Healing your gut with the 4R approach will help soothe digestion and eliminate excess hormones in your body – causing your belly to appear bloated.  This can change!

#4 Sleep deprivation

Hello, sleep deprivation! Raising twins, I am no stranger to insomnia.  This exhaustion raises our cortisol levels and has us reaching for coffee and sugar in the morning and wine to wind down at night.  This sick cycle keeps us holding onto weight around our center for years.

Break the cycle. Address your stress by integrating adaptogens into your life. Read this: 7 Natural Remedies For Everyday Stress. 

5 Ways I Healed My Diastasis Recti

#1 Abdominal Pumps For Abdominal Separations

  • #1 Similar to “fire breath” in yoga.  You inhale release your abdominals and then exhale, pull in your core as if snapping it to your back.  Practice this 10-100x daily.
  • #2 Hold your abdominals in and count to three.  Rest and repeat.

#2 Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are BELOW your core.  So, it only makes sense that they are affected when your core is not functioning correctly.  If your pelvis is tilted forward OR back, your pelvic floor has changed.  A diaphragmatic breath will release any tension in your pelvic floor and re-teach your core to let-go of undue stress.

#3 Addressing Gut Imbalances

Due to antibiotic use and the hormones from your baby {or two in my case!}, you may need to address gut healing to shed the pregnancy look.  It’s common to have leaky gut syndrome after birth.  Read this post on how I did it. 

Therefore, you may need to remove gluten and dairy for 4-6 weeks and add in some good supplements to repair your gut digestion.  It’s called the 4R approach, as a women’s herbal educator I can walk you through the steps or reach out to a functional medicine doctor for a firm diagnosis.

#4 Watching Alignment

Your rib to hip alignment is extremely important in healing your abdominal separation. Think of sticking your tush out {not squeezing your buttocks} and drawing your ribs over your hips.  This will engage your core and help with a better alignment throughout the day.

#5 Is It Safe To Do Sit-ups With A Separation?

This is a big question! One I suffered with for over three years.

IF you can engage your pelvic floor and transversus {a muscle that flattens your core in the front}, then you can do sit-ups.  Diane Lee has some amazing FREE content for instructors and clients to view.  Check them out here. 

“Training comes before strengthening.”- Diane Lee

It’s easier than you think.

It’s not important that you close the gap, but that you address the underlying reasons of why this is happening.

Conclusion

It’s not about closing the gap.  When you have an abdominal separation you want to learn how to engage your pelvic floor and your core again, address your postural alignment, investigate your digestion and stress levels. You may be able to do crunches and cross-fit again when you are stronger from within.

Want to learn more? Join my FREE 3-day challenge. 👇

 

5 Myths Of Postpartum Exercise Recovery

5 Myths Of Postpartum Exercise Recovery

I didn’t do a sit-up for over four years because of my diastasis recti, an abdominal separation due to my twin pregnancy.
Confused and sleep-deprived, I also drank Guinness to improve my milk supply and paid little attention to my diet for the first year.
 
But eventually, I was able to heal my core and improve my digestion through corrective exercises and a nutritional diet.
 
Let me explain…
We have this perception that we need to be tone and fit in our pre-pregnancy clothes six weeks after birth. What we are not honoring, is the healing process a new momma needs to go through.
 

Here are the 5 Myths of Postpartum Exercise Recovery

#5 It Takes 6-Weeks To Recover From Birth

 
Your body went through one of the biggest transformations in your life. Eight weeks postpartum, you may still be sore and sleep-deprived. If you had a c-section, episiotomy or diastasis recti you have endured an injury that may need up to two years to recover.
 
Click here for Your body after baby to see if what you are experiencing is normal. 
 
 

#4 You can go back to your previous exercise routine

Postpartum Exercise

We are so quick to jump into our previous exercise routine without realizing we need post-rehabilitative exercises to heal our wounds. 

Sign you may need pelvic floor rehabilitation are:

  • leaking, ongoing back, pelvis, groin or abdominal pain
  • Pressure or bulging in your vagina or rectum and bulging of your abdomen during ANY exercise
  • Difficulty doing any of your everyday activities because of pain, leakage, pressure or any other symptom that concerns you

#3 You shouldn’t do crunches with diastasis recti {DRA}

Postpartum gurus may tell you not to do crunches if you have a diastasis recti. Following this advice, I skipped flexion {a.k.a. crunches} for over three years afraid I would increase the split!  Guess what, this guru was wrong.
exercise

Postpartum Exercise

 
Diane Lee, physiotherapist shares how women can have a gap and still transfer load through the body without pain. It’s about your functional movement and transfer of load in your body so you don’t have more biomechanics and injuries.  
You can do crunches with an abdominal separation IF you know how to engage your pelvic floor first and you re-learn how to transfer load through your body. 
Not sure if you have a separation? Click here to watch my YouTube Video.

#2 A little leaking is ok

 
The pelvic floor is very resilient, but one sign it is not functioning properly; is when you have leaked. Leaking a little bit is a sign of pelvic floor weakness. This weakness in your “inner unit”, can create dysfunction in how you transfer load through your body.
 
You may also have trouble breathing, low back pain, hip pain or a weak core in response to your pelvic floor tone.
 
In a large postpartum study of prevalence for urinary incontinence (UI), Wilson et al (2002) found that 45% of women experienced UI at 7 years postpartum and that 27% who were initially incontinent in the early postpartum period regained their continence while 31% who were continent became incontinent.

#1 Kegels are enough

Kegels are small contractions of your pelvic floor muscles, suggested during pregnancy and postpartum to decrease incontinence.

The reason Kegels may not work is:

a) your pelvic floor could be too tight, needing a release
b) you’re performing the pelvic exercises incorrectly
c) your body alignment could be off
d) you need a full body workout
 
There are over ten different ways to contract your pelvic floor. Squeezing and lifting these muscles are not enough to gain the full effect of your pelvic floor strength.

Conclusion

In conclusion, allow your body 1-2 years to recover from pregnancy. Seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist if you have any pain, leaking, bulging, or pressure in your pelvic floor.  Your body will heal, allow yourself the time. 
How has your recovery been? Comment below and let me know.
Tara
Ready to learn more? Join my FREE 3-day Challenge.

 

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