Did you know that one of the very best things you can do for your pelvic floor is learning how to squat properly?
The reason: squatting increases the flexibility of your pelvic floor muscles by working them through their full range of movement (or at full length). When you squat correctly, you use your glute muscles. When your glutes are switched on and strengthened, this works your pelvic floor muscles through their full range.
For best function, your pelvic floor should not be tight (which happens if you overdo the kegels, or grip your lower butt muscles the whole time), or floppy (which happens if you are an habitual butt-tucker). Instead, more like a taut, springy trampoline that stretches and contracts as required. It is required to do a lot of pretty vital stuff – like controlling the openings to your bladder, uterus and rectum, supporting your insides and giving you better orgasms.
You even don’t need to particularly ‘make time’ for this incredibly beneficial exercise, as squats are easy to incorporate into your daily movements. Going up the stairs can be a set of one-legged squats if you climb correctly with your knee above your heel, rather than projected forward over your toes. Doing the laundry, picking up kids’ toys off the floor, putting dinner in the oven, the opportunities for squats are endless – but you need to do it right.
So what makes a squat effective for improving pelvic floor dysfunction? First of all, it needs to work your glutes. The work is coming from your hamstrings and butt, not your quads (the fronts of your thighs). If you can’t feel it in your glutes, you’re not in the right position.
Tip: Very often, all you need to do is shift the weight from the balls of your feet, as you stand, to your heel to feel the work transfer from the fronts of your thighs to the back.
To squat properly, untuck your butt and keep your spine in its natural curved, neutral position. Keep your shins vertical (knee stacked over ankle) and take your hips back, as if you are about to sit on a chair. The position of the shins and pelvis is the most important factor, so only go as low as you can while keeping them where you want them. Pushing up, the weight should be through your heels and the outside edges of your feet, not the balls of your feet.
Untucking and unclenching your butt as you stand and walk is a vital step to better alignment and will help you to achieve the right pelvic position when squatting.
As you practice, you will eventually be able to take the squat deeper, increasing the stretch in the glutes and pelvic floor.
How many squats should you do a day? Well, as many as you want to! As long as you have the technique nailed, you can squat all day long…
And then, if you really want to go for it, consider buying a Squatty Potty or placing your feet on a step when you go to the toilet! Doing what comes naturally in the most natural way – Squatting – (the way we did it for millennia) helps avoid unnecessary pressure on the pelvic floor – while improving complaints such as constipation, bloating, IBS and hemorrhoids (piles).
So Squat, Mama! Every day and often, stick that butt back, find your glutes and make friends with your pelvic floor!