It's not rocket science that how you use your body influences the strength of different muscles, but what's often overlooked are the unconscious movement habits that undermine your strength, day in and day out.
Your glutes for example. Strong glutes stabilize the bones of your pelvis and also support your pelvic floor muscles.
There's one habit however that consistently undermines glute strength (and pelvic floor strength).
Where's your weight?
Let's do an experiment:
- take off your shoes
- stand up with straight legs (no knee bend)
- check in with your feet and notice which part of your foot is supporting your body weight
Is your weight more over the balls of your feet or your heels or does it feel centered over your arches (one foot may have a different story than the other)?
TIP: If you're wearing shoes with any amount of heel elevation (which is the vast majority of shoes), take them off so you get an accurate assessment.
Have your phone charger handy? It's a great make-shift plumb line that is very revealing. Hold one end on the side of your hip, centered between the front and back. Let the heavy plug end dangle down by your ankle. It should line up with the bone that sticks out on the side of your ankle. For most people, it drifts forward.
back it up
If your plumb line drifts forward, back your hips up so they're stacked over your heels. This gives the muscles on your backside (your glutes and hamstrings) a chance to participate in keeping you upright.
Feel like your going to fall backwards? That's really common. Try bending forward (just a little) at your hips, like you’re making a tiny bow, until you feel steady on your feet with your weight stacked over your heels.
what about your glutes?
The vast majority of my clients and students have a habit of standing with their hips thrust forward, while clenching their glutes and tucking their pelvis. It's bad news for the glutes.
When you stand like this day in and day out, decade after decade, your glutes lose strength. They're not able to do their job. They can't help stabilize your pelvis. They can't support your pelvic floor. Over time you develop the infamous Flat Ass Syndrome.
Here’s the bottom line – if you want to decrease pelvic pain and improve the current state of your pelvic floor, you need glutes that are active participants throughout your day. Yes, you could go to the gym and spend 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a week doing specific exercises to target your glutes, but your body requires more than that.
Instead, back your pelvis up and start using your glutes throughout the day, 7 days a week, no gym required.
Last time you practiced keeping the outside edge of your feet straight and the width of your feet in line with the width of the front of your pelvis (ASIS).
Now you get to add in this 3rd piece to your stance puzzle. Start noticing where your weight is when you’re standing – at the kitchen sink, when you brush your teeth, wait in line at the bank or the post office or the grocery or, or, or…………. and gently back yourself up until your pelvis is stacked over your ankles.
It’s a process to shift the habit. Eventually it will become your new norm and your glutes and pelvic floor will thank you!