This topic was inspired by a Q&A Support Call for the full self-care program. There was a great question about piriformis syndrome and it spurred me to share this information about pelvic floor musculature with you today!
You have probably heard me say many times that the legs are a huge part of abdominal health. And so are the buttocks! When we think about the abdomen and/or the pelvic floor, it is imperative that we understand how the muscles (not just the organs, etc.) play into the pain or dysfunction we feel.
When there is strength imbalance in the muscles, weak muscles get seriously stressed out. And when they get weak, because they can’t do the job you are asking them to do with dynamic strength, they lock down or semi-spasm in order to create the stability your body needs to keep moving. This can cause huge amounts of pain and discomfort.
Most of the time, when we start feeling pain, our first impulse is to rest, which is fine for the short-term. But if the rest becomes too prolonged, we can actually make the situation worse by letting our muscles lose what little strength they have to begin with.
In my work, I see this play out most often in the pelvic floor. Because the pelvic floor is the base of the abdomen, it is so important to keep it in as good of working order as possible.
Here are some excellent ways to keep the muscles of your pelvic floor in good strength and health.
1. Lay on your belly, toes tucked under. Alternate sides squeezing your butt (for example, 5x on one side, 5x on the other). It’s not sexy, but it sure is effective! You can also practice this standing.
2. If you have a chronically spasming muscle (piriformis likes to do this) release it from it’s pent-up state by leaning against a wall with a tennis ball.
Make sure the side you are treating is as relaxed as possible – that foot should rest on the floor but stay relaxed. The outside foot and leg should bear your weight.
3. For simultaneous opening and strengthening, there’s not much better than a squat, as far as I’m concerned. Keep your butt pointing toward the back wall, weight in your heels. Keep your knees facing forward – don’t let your knees fall inward! Be sure to squeeze your butt as you stand back up. Start slow, build up to 1 minute over time.
As always, I hope this is useful to you!
p.s. Feeling ready to dive into the Full Self-Care Program? It’s amazing!
- Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.