You wouldn’t think there is much that a pregnant woman and a professional football player would have in common. But you know those stories about mothers who lift cars off someone because they have superhuman strength? Well, there is definitely some truth to that! And I’ll tell you about the how and why and then I’ll give you a free, simple exercise everyone should do to keep it tight!
For starters….both preggos and footballers have the need for a strong pelvic floor. You’ll hear me talk about this a lot. It’s key for the long-term healthy body!
To me, this seems like a no-brainer and should be taught in health class in 7th grade along with other important health topics. In this country, our healthcare focus is less on prevention and more about treating problems after they happen. Many pelvic floor issues are preventable, and doing some of the exercises I am about to mention will be beneficial for a wide range of issues for both men and women!
I was fortunate enough to learn from some amazing instructors about the necessary co-contraction of the pelvic floor and transverse abdominal activation in neutral spine. This essential connection facilitates correct execution of most Pilates exercises as well as supports better posture and can decrease pain in the low back and sacral iliac joints (common sore spots for pregnant and football players), supports the uterus and prostate. Also, in the holistic world, mulabundah, pulling up, can get your kundalini flowing to all the right places 🙂
First let’s get a good picture of our anatomy so you can see these deep muscles – they’re all you have in this area to support you so it’s time to become very good friends!
– The transverse abdominis (TA) acts as a seat belt for your lower back because it encircles the low abdomen all the way to the lower back and acts as a corset or shrink wrap that you can tighten by drawing the belly button in.
– In addition to the low belly drawing in, you want to draw the pelvic floor up for maximum benefit while training the core muscles and or other exercises. This provides more stability to the segments of the lower spine by activating the multifidus if you do these exercise in neutral spine.
– Your pelvic floor is like a sling or a hammock. In and Up is the new mantra – now how to do that…
According to Tasha Mulligan MPT, “Preliminary studies have shown that there may be a direct connection of some of the fibers of the PF and TA…..One thing we know is that these two muscles work together as the deepest contraction, the first stabilizers as the root of your core.”
What this can mean for my football kickers not only for power but for injury prevention is by connecting your stabilizing pattern to contract your deepest muscles before performing powerful moves like a punt or a kick, you will have not only your deep system activated for more power but have a better chance of not pulling auxiliary muscles to get the job done.
What this means for my pregnant women is that by having strong pelvic floor and transverse abdominis muscles, you will be using your natural seat belt to support your sacral lilac joints and help prevent back pain by relying on other muscles to hold you up and perform tasks. And then there is the marathon of labor, delivery, and recovery that your pelvic floor assists with. It’s as necessary for women to understand that letting go and releasing the pelvic floor during the second stage of labor as it is doing pelvic floor contractions during pregnancy. During labor, the pelvic floor must relax and stretch to allow for an easier delivery but your pre-labor tone will help you recover in postpartum.
HOW TO: The idea here is to squeeze an exercise ball standing vertically over it in a straddle with the ball on the ground between your legs. The ball must be the appropriate size. I am 5.7″ and prefer a 55-inch ball. Know that some balls stretch over time. A very key part of this is to NOT only squeeze your buns! Your pelvic floor has an anterior (front) and posterior (back) and being overly tight in posterior can cause other problems so please be neutral. Squeeze the ball with your legs and pull up from deep inside while also looking for a sensation of closing in the area for about 8 seconds and breathe continually throughout. Do this about 8-10 times and on the final one, pump the pelvic floor quickly for a count of 15. Remember that when you finish a repetition to follow release, relax, and expand the area back to normal and relaxed.
I admit that this work is challenging but proven to help you support your pelvic and lumber joints and vertebrae, pelvic organs, helps flatten your low abs when the time is right, and even support sexual health and performance for both men and women!
It’s all good to read about now it’s your turn – make it happen! Happy toning 🙂