Sarah Bradford of LUNA Mother Collective is a certified personal trainer, pre- and postnatal fitness specialist, and diastasis recti and core rehabilitation specialist—plus a busy mom of two, so she gets the struggle. But she also knows that your pelvic floor is too essential to ignore.
Why doing pelvic floor work is important
The pelvic floor involves several body parts and bodily functions, so taking care of it is crucial. “The pelvic floor plays a big role in supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum), sexual function, bowel and bladder function, [and] childbirth,” Bradford says.
Incontinence and prolapse can happen to anyone—not just those who have given birth. “Many factors, including stress and chronic constipation, can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction,” she says. Sucking in your tummy for that photo opp can do it too.
Lengthening and strengthening, plus good posture and focusing on your breathing, can help everything down there work optimally, from the functional (aka going to the bathroom) to the fun (aka, hitting the sheets).
But working those muscles doesn’t even have to be time-consuming. Bradford shares five pelvic floor stretches and exercises (that aren’t Kegels!) you can do in those “in-between moments” or at the end of the day while Netflix is on.
5 pelvic floor exercises and stretches to try
1. Hip circles
Get on your hands and knees, then step one foot just outside of your hand. Draw wide circles with your hips in one direction for a few breaths, then the other direction. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Supported deep squat
Put a yoga block or bolster under your sitting bones to support you in a deep squat, pointing your toes outward. Bring your palms together at your chest, gently pressing your knees out with your elbows. Hold this position for 10 to 15 breaths.
3. Half happy baby
Lie on your back and with your legs stretched out straight. Bring your right leg to a tabletop position (where your calf is parallel to the floor) and grab the outside part of your foot with your right hand. Then, draw your right knee to the side of your right shoulder to deepen the stretch. (You can gently hold your left hip down with your other hand so it doesn’t come up or move). Hold this position for a minute, then repeat on the other side.
4. Child’s pose
Place your knees out wide with your big toes together. While inhaling, press your hips back so they’re resting on your heels. Put your arms straight out in front of you, slowly reaching farther and farther without hurting yourself. Relax your pelvic floor and belly, breathing from your diaphragm (which is between your chest and abdomen). Hold for a minute.
Check out proper child’s pose form with Lena Dunham:
5. Figure four stretch
This is another lie-on-your-back position (*breathes a sigh of relief*). After getting on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee, and bring your legs up to tabletop position. Thread your left arm in between your legs, interlacing your hands behind your right knee. Then, draw your legs close to your chest and breathe. Hold this for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
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