I’m not going to be cruel and make you wait until the end of the post to give you the meat of the article. The best thing you can do for your pelvic floor, right now, is...
STOP SITTING ON YOUR TAILBONE!
(It’s no wonder so many people have pelvic floor issues with how often I catch random people slouching in their chair). And just like that, this post has turned into a rundown of the correct way to sit - remember correct alignment in sitting, standing, walking, running, etc. is key for having a pain-free, injury free, fully functioning body. Do you know that being out of alignment is also cause for cellulite? If there's any other motivation for training your body to get in line then this would be the one to get your attention! (But more on the cellulite thing later).
Here’s the deal with sitting:
When we “slouch” we are sitting on our tailbones because our pelvis is rolled up underneath us - which essentially means we are shortening the length of our pelvic floor between our tailbone and our pubic bone. Remember, your pelvic floor is attached to your pelvis at four different points: 2 sit-bones on either side, your pubic bone up front, and your tailbone in the back. This constant “shortening” is training your muscles to do weird things, but mostly, you are weakening the fabric of the muscles that are designed to stay both taut and buoyant, much like the fabric on a trampoline. Another tell-tale sign of slouching is a flat lower back because every time you slouch you are also teaching your lumbar spine to flatten - there goes that nice curve in your lumbar spine that is necessary to function properly and put you into correct alignment. So the next time you catch yourself sitting on your tailbone in the car, on the couch, at your desk, etc. just picture what a trampoline looks like with a broken spring (a metaphor for your tailbone) - your whole pelvic floor balance will be off. Here’s a quick rundown of the correct way to sit so your pelvic floor is most happy!
Sit down and place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
Scoot up near the front of the chair so your hips are just slightly higher than your knees - remember, it’s much harder to slouch when you have your hips placed higher than your knees.
Just like in yoga class, find your sit-bones and then see if can roll your pelvis forward until you find your pubic bone resting on the chair. FYI, once you rock forward onto your pubic bone you automatically relieve pressure from your tailbone.
Feel the bottom two ribs of your rib cage are lined up over the hips.
Roll shoulders down and back so they are in line with your hips.
Rest hands in your lap with palms facing up. This will trigger your shoulders to roll down and back if they haven’t already done so.
Keep crown of your head tall to the ceiling by bringing your chin back until your head is properly lined up just over your pelvis - your head could literally sit in the bowl-shaped pelvis if you didn’t have an upper body separating the two. (Or, just make sure your ears are over your shoulders and shoulders are over hips).
Engage your core with a few BAB breaths which turns ON your transverse abdominus - Tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGe-xhQEobM&t=10s
Here's the kicker: The most important thing to realize is that you are using your core to hold your body up - NOT, your neck and shoulders. By putting the work in your abs - this translates to less time you need to spend conditioning them at the gym - BONUS #1!
I know, I know. Sitting isn’t quite as relaxing as it used to be but you are training your body to do wonderful things! You are engaging your core properly and your pelvic floor is most happy here. This is just one more place in your life to bring awareness to your posture. Bonus #2: You will be amazed how quickly aches and pains in your back, neck and shoulders go away when you are using your core the way it was designed to be used. (Besides, you can always go to bed when sitting becomes too much work for you. But you know me. Soon enough I will be posting tips on proper alignment even while sleeping). Stay tuned.
Notice how natural and perfect this posture looks? Just kidding!
But take note: Nice curve in the lower lumbar spine, shoulders rolled down and back, head over shoulders, shoulders over hips. Ribs are down, not flaring out.
Core muscles are turned ON - which translates to functional movement (engaging muscles correctly while just living your life), and less time at the gym. You know the drill.
Admittedly, this posture may look comfortable - but notice how the core is turned OFF in exchange for comfort - which translates to more time conditioning those muscles at the gym.
Plus, your alignment and pelvic floor will be pretty pissed off later if you continue to do this over the course of a lifetime! Bad, bad, bad.