Home Program for Pelvic Floor Exercises
It’s no secret our postpartum care in the U.S. leaves something to be desired. We get physical therapy after knee surgery, hernia surgery or if we have tennis elbow for goodness sake. Every momma who has given birth should also have physical therapy afterwards. A lot of changes occur in your pelvic floor during pregnancy, so even if you did not have a vaginal birth, your pelvic floor can still use some love. It is never too late to get help for anything you feel just “isn’t right.” In the meantime, try these below exercises.
Pelvic Floor Perfect
Try an at home exercise program. There are lots of home exercise programs out there, but based on depth of knowledge, clinical experience and research, fellow physical therapist Dr. Sarah Duvall, PT, DPT, CPT currently has the best home exercise program. It’s a great routine for pelvic floor rehab. The program features videos that are quick, easy and effective (no more peeing when you laugh, cough or sneeze!).
Use Massage Balls
Did you know the muscles on the OUTSIDE of your pelvis can affect the muscles on the INSIDE of your pelvis (aka your pelvic floor muscles). Many people have too much tension or tightness of their pelvic floor muscles causing problems with peeing, pooping or pain. We must release and relax the outside pelvic muscles as well as the inside. I have been using Pariday Tend Her Buddies massage balls to release the back and glute muscles. Roll around in the ball until you find a tender spot and hold and breathe as the muscles softens. You can use a foam roller to work out tight hips and glutes as well.
When doing any workout that includes a lot of hip and glute strengthening (think squats, deadlifts, jump squats, etc) it’s important to balance your muscles before AND after your workout with lengthening and relaxation (talk to your doctor or a pelvic floor PT before starting any strenuous work out postpartum). When participating in high intensity training (Crossfit, HIIT classes, powerlifting, etc), mobility, rest and recovery are equally as important as the training itself. Maintaining good joint, muscular and myofascial mobility can prevent injury, improve performance and (surprise surprise) be good for your pelvic floor. For this, we recommend hip openers to help loosen up your hips, glutes and adductors before your workout to ensure you’re getting good activation of your pelvic floor during your training activity. Remember, relaxing the hip and pelvic floor muscles is key to prevent injury, improve performance and keep your pelvic floor happy. Learn how here.
Kegels? Not so fast!
It’s the million dollar question! We often think or joke that we’ve got to squeeze and hold her tight to keep her strong. However, that can actually lead to overactive pelvic floor muscles that are too tense which can lead to pain, peeing and pooping issues, and even prolapse. When you want to strengthen a muscle, you don’t just keep it contracted, you contract-relax-contract-relax because that relaxation piece is equally as important. It’s about balance. So before you start kegel-ing away, work with a pelvic floor PT to make sure it’s what your muscles actually need. If you are doing kegels and your muscles are already too tense down there, it could be making things worse. So, not too tight y’all.
How do I know what’s best for me?
That’s a tough one. Pelvic floor rehab can be tricky. Sometimes the pelvic floor needs relaxing. Sometime it needs strengthening. Sometimes it needs both! It’s not a cut and dry solution but an individual one based on what your body is telling us. Your best bet is to enlist the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist.
In an online session we can talk through what pelvic floor issues you are experiencing and come up with a personalized plan that best fits your needs. You’ll learn tips and tricks to get the results you’re looking for. Nothing is off limits or too personal. We’re here to help you. It might just take one quick conversation to get you on the right track or it may take a couple, but our top priority is helping you as quickly and effectively as possible. Schedule an online session with us for one-on-one guidance for birth preparation, healing, recovery and all the things. We got you, mamas!
Sara Reardon PT, DPT, WCS is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, a resource for online pelvic health education and therapy to help women worldwide with pelvic health conditions. She is a board certified women’s health physical therapist with a special interest in treating pelvic pain and pregnancy and postpartum conditions. She is a mom, wife, Saints fan and wanna be yogi.
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