How much should you hold your pelvic floor muscles during everyday activitites?
Are you supposed to think about them?
Or should you just let them do their own thing?
First it depends if you are a naturally tense or relaxed person? Then to consider whether they have fully recovered after childbirth? They should work on ‘automatic pilot’ going up and down through a variety of gears. But you might need to re-train that skill.
MIght your pelvic floor muscles be just wafting about?
Do your pelvic floor and tummy abdominal muscles support your internal organs and your back as you go about your day? Or might they have a tendency to droop when you aren’t paying them attention? Might you have a pelvic floor with a tendency to “waft about”??
Its probably the most common thing I point out to mums in clinic. Even if you have been religious about using Squeezy App and doing your daily pelvic floor targeted exercises. You may have one more step to go. Making sure that your pelvic floor joins in more when you do more and knows how to relax when you relax.
Should you hold your pelvic floor muscles up ALL DAY ?!?!
Yes…. and ….No. Just like your abdominals and all the other muscles of your body your pelvic floor is not a one gear, one trick pony.
We have moved on from the concept of “on” or “off”.
We realise now that your brain needs to decide at any given moment how much muscle activity is “enough” for the task you want to do. A well trained and exercised pelvic floor can automatically choose to be completely relaxed, fully sharp and contracted, with plenty of medium level options in between.
What is Your Resting Tone?
This is the amount of activity your muscles have at rest. Where they sit naturally when you are not thinking about them.
Untrained muscles, or muscles after childbirth or an episode of injury, can have terribly low resting tone.
To be fair – I think this mama is asleep – but how many of us look like this when sat on the sofa (#GBBO)??
Too Little Tone:
…leaves us “hanging” off our ligaments with a tendency to overstretch joints and muscles into saggy patterns. This has obvious cosmetic fallout. Also you will have difficult stabilising movement (getting weird joint clicks and clunks), or be vulnerable to injury. Untoned muscles are responsible for issues like incontinence, bladder urgency, difficulty emptying bowels and pelvic organ prolapse.
Or do you relate more to this Mum – fired up & alert, all the time ??
Too High Tone:
…has you perched on the edge of your seat, tense glutes, shoulders up, neck muscles tight like guitar strings – leading to neck pain, shoulder aches and pelvic pain. Sometimes also responsibe for incontinence, urgency and difficulty emptying bowels too. I know seems weird! But too MUCH pelvic floor tone can be a problem as well as too little!
Video: grading pelvic floor control in standing, carrying, reaching and JUMPING!
Today’s video was made last year, in collaboration with Tena. This is part of a series teaching pelvic floor from basics to more advanced. A Pelvic Floor Exercises 101!
Find the whole Pelvic Floor 101 sequence here.
In this video, experiment with me and the lovely models as we explore finding our pelvic floors and controlling how much they work – even as we move handweights and try a bit of stretching & leaping too. It takes practice to improve your “automatic pilot” function for every day life.
So Mama’s. Pelvic Floor Muscles for Real Life. No pelvic floors just wafting about! Practice standing up. Add some hand weights. Stretching.
And if you want to get back to running or that trampoline you gotta practice JUMPING too!!
Author: Amanda Savage, MCSP MSt (Cantab). Specialist Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapist
© Amanda Savage, All Rights Reserved, 2021
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of my blogposts, articles and my videos are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents if you are not a face to face client of mine. Professional advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of the contents of this article. Amanda Savage disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article or video.