4 Ways To Release An Overactive Pelvic Floor

4 Ways To Release An Overactive Pelvic Floor

If your pelvic floor is overactive, your goal is to find ways to release and relax those muscles. 

(If your asking…how do I know if my pelvic floor is overactive? Head over to this post for our guide. If your symptoms sound more like an underactive pelvic floor, stay tuned!)

 In an overactive pelvic floor, the muscles are chronically active. Often, they are overworking to create stability in your pelvis. This can lead to dysfunction that includes pain, poorly functioning muscles, leaking urine and a variety of other issues. 

These four simple exercises can relax and release those pelvic floor muscles to create balance and reduce discomfort. 

Happy Baby Breathing. 

This simple breathing exercise starts by laying on your back in happy baby yoga position. Take your feet up and grab the outside of your feet with your hands, if possible.

If this position is challenging for you, just bend your knees and grab behind your thighs. This position naturally stretches the pelvic floor muscles. 

From your desired position, allow your back and the back of the pelvis to settle down into the floor. Focus on the breath, particularly the inhale, which naturally expands the pelvic floor. 

Begin deepening the breath and try to feel the inhale expand and stretch the pelvic floor.  Let the exhale be passive (don’t worry about anything happening in your pelvic floor). Don’t worry if you can’t feel the breath in your pelvic floor at first. It can take some practice to get it to work!

Try to do 5-10 of these breaths per day to naturally relax those muscles.

Myofascial Release With A Ball.

Using a ball for myofascial release is another way you can begin to relax and release these muscles. Using a racquetball, tennis ball, or another small ball you have around the house (play with the size and firmness to find what’s comfortable for you), place the ball to the inside of one of your sitting bones

(Not sure where your sitting bones are? bend over slightly and you will feel two bony protrusions in the center of your butt. That’s them!!)

In this position, the ball will be on one side of your pelvic floor.

If this feels too intense, place a towel or pillow underneath you to reduce the sensation. 

With the ball under you, begin to take deep breaths, imagining you are breathing your pelvic floor into the ball. This will massage the muscles, breaking up some of the tension in the pelvic floor. 

Stay there for a few breaths, then move the ball slightly forward, still on one side of the pelvic floor, to just behind your vagina.

 Repeat the deep breaths. 

Repeat on the second side to get into all the deep muscles in this area.

Internal Massage with a Pelvic Floor Massager 

An internal pelvic floor massage tool is a device that you insert into your vagina to release both the superficial and deep muscles of the pelvic floor and deep hip.

It simulates the manual release that occurs when a  pelvic floor physiotherapist manually releases your PF.

This is a very direct, and effective way to release tension that is chronically held, and difficult to access, in your pelvic floor. 

We have a complete guide for Pelvic Floor Massage, including a review of the top pelvic floor massage tools. Click here to read

Meditate 

Meditation is also an effective way to address pelvic floor overactivity. Typically, women with overactive pelvic floors tend to be more type-A, in general. 

Implementing a regular, 10-15 minute daily meditation practice in your day can help reduce the level of tension in your body in general, including the tension in your pelvic floor. 

These are four simple ways to help reduce activity in an overactive pelvic floor. By doing so, you can improve pelvic floor function which will allow you to get back to your active lifestyle without fear of pain or incontinence!  

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

3 Ways To Relieve Tightness In Your Neck And Shoulders

3 Ways To Relieve Tightness In Your Neck And Shoulders

 

Upper back and neck discomfort are some of the most common issues we hear about from moms.

 

Why is that?

 

Well, for one, moms spend a lot of time ‘rounding.’ As a mother to a little one you may be breastfeeding and carrying babies. On top of that, we live in a culture with excessive sitting and we spend all day looking at a phone. These all contribute to a more rounded posture. This rounding causes muscle imbalances that lead to pain.

There are also specific postpartum changes that can worsen this issue. These include extreme tightness of back muscles and changes in our breathing patterns from pregnancy. I have three simple tips that can help reduce this common discomfort.

Here are my top 3 very simple tips for addressing and reducing this discomfort:

Tip 1: Correct your head position.

When your head is aligned over the spine, it puts very little weight on your spine. But if you move your head forward, you increase the pressure/weight pulling on your spine substantially. When our spine and head are stacked properly, things are working as they should be. But once that stack has shifted, we create a lot more work for our muscles.

The best way to remedy this is what I call ‘the eavesdrop.’ Instead of leaning in, imagine you are listening to a super juicy conversation…behind you. When you do this, your head pops back in line with the rest of your spine and creates some immediate relief for your upper back and neck.

 

Tip 2: Breathe properly.

During pregnancy, many of us learn to breathe in a less than ideal way. Instead of using our diaphragm and extending our rib cage (as is ideal), we start using secondary muscles in our necks and shoulders to breathe. Breathe in, shoulders lift. They lift to try to create more space in the rib cage, but the result is fatigued and tight muscles.

Instead, keep your shoulders down, keep the neck soft, and inhale and feel your rib cage expand left to right and forward and back. When you do this, your belly is going to move and your rib cage will expand. The shoulders and neck won’t need to work to help you breathe, and can get a much needed break.

 

Tip 3: Open your back body.

In the previous tip, we talked about expanding the rib cage to breathe…however, a lot of postpartum women are extremely tight in their back muscles and find that when they try to expand their rib cage, it doesn’t move! Those tight muscles prevent the movement of your ribs.

To open the back body, I recommend a simple exercise. Find something low to the ground, like a stable chair, and come into a squatting position in front of it. Grab hold of the bottom (chair legs, couch, etc) with your arms around your legs. Have a rounded spine, and drop your chin to your chest.

As the legs are pressing against the front of our body and we breathe in, this opens the back muscles from the inside. Let your head relax down, and breathe really deeply and feel the expansion in the back body.

Do 5-10 breathes like that every day to help open up these muscles and rib breathing will become much easier.

A quick note: if this doesn’t feel good on your pelvic floor…maybe it feels like you will pee if you do that, you can modify this by sitting in a chair and place your feet on blocks in front of you. Wrap your arms around yourself, and tuck your chin into your chest and do these same deep breaths.

Becoming a mom does NOT mean you must struggle with tight, achy necks and shoulders. If you are looking for a comprehensive system to help strengthen your post-baby core and bring some balance back to the body, you might be interested in my FREE training: How to Strengthen Your Post-Baby Core (Once and for all!). Click here to sign up.

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

How To Ease Into Fitness After Birth

How To Ease Into Fitness After Birth

I often get questions about how to jump back into physical activity after having a baby. Postpartum women want to know: where do I start?

Today, I lay out when to start, what to avoid, and what postpartum milestones matter. Read below or watch the video!

First 6-8 Weeks Postpartum

First thing first: you just had a baby. In the first six weeks after giving birth, rest should be your #1 priority.

Beyond resting, my recommendations for this period are simple. Focus on:
  • Deep breathing to get your breath system working again. (I talk all about that here.)
  • Connecting to your deep core muscles, particularly your transverse abdominals.

From a seated position (or while nursing), first take a breath in and let the belly relax. Imagine a corset around your midsection. As you exhale, feel the corset draw in gently. This should create a feeling of length in the torso. This action helps bring your core muscles back on-line.

  • If you are desperate for some movement, walk!

Walking is low impact and increases circulation (which aids healing). In a perfect world, this walking would happen without holding or wearing your baby. For some of us (like me!) that isn’t possible with a newborn, and that’s ok! But, if you can manage it, walking freely helps bring your body back into proper alignment after pregnancy.

To recap: as you begin to heal in those first six weeks focus on: REST, breathing, core engagement, and walking (if you feel up for it!).

6-Weeks to 4-Months Postpartum

At this point, you’ve had six weeks to heal (and possibly a few weeks longer in the case of a C-section), and your care provider has cleared you for activity. We now enter the six-week to four-month period of recovery.
This period is critical to your post-baby core health. I encourage my students to approach this stage with care and caution.
Elevated hormone levels and muscular imbalances from pregnancy leave your body, particularly your core, in a compromised state.  And doing too much too soon can lead to postpartum issues like diastasis, prolapse, and hernias. This is especially true for a woman who was active during her pregnancy. Her arms and legs are strong. She feels like she can do everything. But her core is weak and cannot support that effort.       My recommendations for this period include:
  • Continue working on the basics.

Engage your deep core muscles regularly and get the breath down. Pregnancy alters the core muscles and breathing system and it takes time to get them working well again!

  • Add in activities that rebalance your post-baby musculature. 

Rebuild mobility in the mid-back. When your back and chest are tight, simple activities, like reaching or lifting, strain an already weak core.

Balance the muscles of the hips. By rebalancing the muscles of the hips, you create a healthier pelvic floor.

  • Keep activities low impact.

Walk, lift gentle weights, gentle yoga (but know not all poses are good for a post-baby body!).

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite yoga postures for this critical postpartum period. Stay tuned!

  • Avoid:

    • High-intensity impact activities. No running, burpees, HIIT, Crossfit. These activities put excessive demand and load on your core and it’s not ready for that yet!
    • Front-loading ab activities. Planks, crunches and all the ‘typical’ ab exercises will do more harm than good.
    • Excessive back bending postures and deep twist positions like you find in many yoga classes.
  Remember, this is a critical period for your body and recovery. You have the chance to create a solid foundation that will allow you to begin incorporating more intense activities in the near future. If you overexert yourself during this period you could end up weaker at six-months postpartum than you were at six-weeks.  

4-Months Postpartum and Beyond

Recommendations become less cut and dry after 4 months. Some who’ve spent the first 4 months building the foundation can safely introduce high-intensity activity at this point. Others would benefit from continuing with lower-intensity activities for longer. This would include anyone who falls into the following categories:

Breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding extends the critical period for your body. The hormones associated with breastfeeding create laxity in your ligaments. In other words, they make you loosey-goosey and create instability in your body. If you are an extended breastfeeder (like I was!) you should approach high-intensity activities with caution until you finish nursing or are down to 2 or 3 feedings a day. After that, the hormones shift and allow more stability in your ligaments.

Natural Flexibility:

If you tend to be a very flexible person, you are likely genetically predisposed to instability. You’re super flexible because your joints are looser. If this is the case for you, you also want to be more conservative in your post-baby movement. You would benefit from giving your body more time to rebuild core stability.

Family History of Postpartum Issues:

If you have a family history of things like hernias or prolapses it likely means you are genetically predisposed to these issues. Again, this is an indication that you may want to give your body more time to build a foundation of stability and strength before jumping into high-intensity activities.  

How to Begin Increasing Intensity of Your Exercise

You’re done nursing (or are down to 1-2 times a day), you’ve mastered deep breathing, and have a solid connection to your deep core muscles. Awesome! Let’s increase that intensity! Here’s how to do it in a mindful, core-safe way.

Start With Lower Intensity.

Your body has gone through a huge transition and you should not jump into any activity at your pre-pregnancy intensity. Start at 50% of your “usual” and see how it feels. If you feel back pain, hip pain, if you leak, or feel like your core isn’t supporting you, those are all signs that you are working beyond your ability.

Short Intervals Are Best.

If you’re getting back to running, don’t start by heading out and knocking out two miles. Instead, try five minutes and then check in. If you’re doing a yoga class, take a break every 5-10 minutes and see how everything is feeling. Again….Does your back hurt? Do your hips hurt? Did you leak any urine? Do you feel unsupported in your core? If you answer yes to any of those questions, your body hit its limit. You’ll want to move to even shorter intervals and spend more time building that foundation. If, after five minutes, you are feeling good and aren’t having any of those symptoms. Awesome! Next time, try 7 minutes and see how that goes. You want to build your intervals slowly.

Check In Frequently!

It’s likely there will be a point at which you will reach the limit of what your body can do in a strong, safe way. And once you hit that limit, stop! That’s your limit, but just for now. You build from there.  

Remember: Start back to your activity of choice with less intensity, shorter durations, and continual check-ins with yourself. The moment you see any signs of disfunction, back off or stop. From there, we continue to build! By respecting your body’s limits rather than pushing through them, you give your core the chance to rebuild it’s pre-baby strength.

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

12 Days of Core Strength

12 Days of Core Strength

12 days of core strength

I recently hosted 12 Days of Core Strength on the brb Yoga Facebook Page. (P.S. If you aren’t following me over there, you should! I go live every week with new tips).

Each day is a super simple, super practical change you can make in your day-to-day life to improve your core strength. Find all 12 videos below.

Day 1: Blow While You Go

Day 2: Hip Hinge

Day 3: The Eavesdrop

Day 4: Rib Breathing

Day 5: 90/90 Breathing

Day 6: One Action At A Time

Day 7: Raise The Roof

Day 8: Standing and Sitting

Day 9: Touch That Stomach!

Day 10: Unclench Those Glutes

Day 11: Watch How You Stand!

Day 12: Let Go Of Perfection

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

Self-Care 101: Start With Breath

Self-Care 101: Start With Breath

Breath Exercise For Overwhelmed Moms

Every day I meet busy moms, like you, who want to care for themselves. As you can probably guess, I think yoga is one of the greatest self-care tools out there. It might surprise you to know I don’t recommend yoga as the starting point for these moms.

I want you to start with breath.

Intentional, deep breathing, that you do, most days, for at least 5 minutes. This is so important, I created a free 5-minute breath exercise that I want to get into the hands of all busy moms.

Here Are Four Reasons To Start With Breath:

 

1. It’s simple.

You spend a lot of time in your head. “Did I do that right? Did I remember that? Should I have done XYZ instead?”

When starting a self-care practice, you want something that doesn’t put you up in your head.

If you aren’t used to the physical practice of yoga, there’s a learning curve. “Where does my leg go? Am I doing this right?”

Not so with a breath practice. You already know how to breathe. With guidance, you can shift to a conscious deep breath without overthinking it.

Breath is self-care that serves you immediately.

 

2. It’s a powerful way to bring calm to the body, right now.

Is “overwhelmed” a word you sometimes use to describe your life? Me too.

When your mind feels overwhelmed, your body’s stress response kicks into high gear. Your brain prepares to fight a bear and activates your fight or flight response. Your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and you are now hyper-alert.

That’s the response you want when you fight a bear. But you’re not fighting a bear. You’re caring for a tiny human.

Deep breathing puts the breaks on your stress response. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system.  Your heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Your mind realizes there is no bear and settles into a relaxed state, immediately.

 

3. You can do it anywhere at anytime

Waiting in line at the grocery store? Commuting home from work? Dealing with a particularly stressful tantrum? All opportunities to practice deep breathing.

No mat required, no special clothes. Once you learn a simple breath technique, self-care is available to you whenever you need it.

 

4. Consistent small choices bring big changes.

Your life is so full. But it’s not so full that you can’t breathe for 5 minutes.

Breath is a quick win. And quick wins help you keep going.

Commit to a 5-minute breath practice for the next week. You will have successfully implemented a self-care routine.

You’ll feel calmer and more present for your life. You’ll feel successful at taking care of yourself.

Over time, you’ll be ready to add other self-care practices, like yoga, into your day. With a regular breath practice under your belt, a little learning curve for yoga isn’t such a big deal.

Enter your email to get your free 5-minute guided breath practice.

Free Breath Training!

Naturally engage your core and pelvic floor with breath.

Build core strength all day, every day.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit