How to fix your pelvic floor through movement
Do you love camping?
Maybe, like me, you do (except for the time our campsite turned into a lake). Or, maybe you don't.
One thing I notice when I'm camping is I move so much more compared to when I'm at home. When I'm camping I don't have to try to move more, it just naturally happens.
Going to the bathroom requires a walk down a trail instead of the few steps down the hall when I'm at home.
Doing the dishes requires a walk to the spigot and then squatting down to fill the dish tub instead of the convenience of a sink and counter top only a few steps away.
There's nothing convenient about camping and that means I move so much more than when almost everything I need is a mere 10-20 steps away.
What does this have to do with your pelvic floor?
Don't worry, I'm not saying you need to go camping if you want to get relief from pelvic floor dysfunction and things like incontinence, cystocele (bladder prolapse) or rectocele (rectal prolapse).
What I am saying is that your pelvic floor needs movement to function well, just like the rest of your body.
A pelvic floor that spends most of its day supported by the seat of a chair is going to be in a very different condition than a pelvic floor that walks and squats regularly and spends time standing and floor sitting.
Remember the pelvic floor formula I mentioned in the last post? Daily Movement + Corrective Exercises + Movement Habits = pelvic floor function
Today, we're taking a look at the Daily Movement piece of the equation.
What is Daily Movement?
Quite simply, it's all the movements that you do throughout your day, not just your dedicated exercise or gym time.
It's going up and down the stairs to do the laundry.
It's squatting, kneeling or bending over to fold your laundry.
It's taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
It's standing up from a chair, or the toilet, and squatting down into it.
It's bending over to unload the dishwasher or standing at the sink to wash the dishes.
Here are some movement ideas to consider:
What's your daily quantity of movement?
If we added up all the minutes you spend moving and all the minutes you spend not moving, which is greater?
How frequently do you move?
Do you typically move in one big chunk and spend the rest of your day in relative stillness?
How long do you spend in one position before changing to a different position?
If you find yourself spending long periods of time without moving, sprinkle in some short, 2-3 minute movement breaks throughout your day to walk, stand, squat, stretch.
Do you do the same things over and over again?
Your body loves variety.
Variety requires different joint ranges of motion, different joint movements, different muscles helping out and more.
Sitting on a chair tends to decrease variety.
Sitting on the floor usually means you're changing position more frequently because you don't have a chair holding you up. Your muscles get tired, so you change position.
Instead of trying to find the perfect chair that allows you to be comfortable in one position for hours on end, mix it up!
Rotate through sitting in a chair, standing at your desk and, if you have an environment where it's acceptable, sit on the floor.
Always walk on a treadmill? Always take the same outdoor walking path? Do something different!
Get off the treadmill and go outside. Walking over the ground instead of a moving belt offers a completely different experience to your body. One that gives you more opportunity to use your glutes.
Get off the sidewalk and onto a natural surface. Most of us have an overdose of flat and level surfaces and miss out on all the benefits the variety of natural surfaces have to offer.
Try taking a walk from a different starting point. Vary your pace.
There are all kinds of ways to give your body movement variety.
The bottom line is, movement matters.
How much you move matters, how often you move matters and movement variety matters.
And yet, how in the world are you supposed to get more movement into a day that's already packed full?
Tips for moving more throughout your day
When I can't take the easy way out and just go camping :), here are some ways I get more movement in throughout my day with a relatively small need for extra time.
- Walk my errands – if I don’t have time to walk the whole way, I’ll drive part way and walk part way
- Park at the back of the parking lot instead of driving around looking for a closer parking spot
- Fold clothes on the floor instead of the bed and getting in lots of squatting, kneeling, lunging, forward bends and more.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- Stand at my desk, sit on the floor at my desk, kneel at my desk, squat at my desk (Need a desk that's standing friendly? Check out this great review guide for standing desks.)
- Sit on the floor vs. a chair or couch which requires more of my muscles to actively support me and uses different joint positions
- Instead of piling my arms full so I can make just one trip from the car, now I make 2 or 3 trips.
A friend uses a smaller tea cup so she gets up more frequently to fill it.
A colleague who works from home moved her office upstairs to make things less convenient and encourage more movement.
These are all movements that help condition your pelvic floor (and the rest of your body) and they're movements that are relatively easy to work in throughout your day without a big time investment, just little bits here and there.
What if you approached your day like it was a movement treasure hunt? How many opportunities can you find to move during your day? Your pelvic floor will thank you for it.