What does the pelvic floor have to do with posture? Well it may sound strange, but a lot!
The pelvic floor (muscles and fascia) span the bottom of your pelvis, acting like a hammock to hold up the pelvic organs in place. Another way to imagine the pelvic floor is the base of a cylinder or can - with the lid of the can being the diaphragm, and the walls being the abdominal and spinal muscles!
If there are any imbalances - such as tightness or weakness in any of these muscle groups, it can affect the way we sit and stand, or our “posture”.
And the opposite is also true, if we have “poor” posture, or are unable to hold optimal posture for long periods of time, then it can leak to increased pressure through the pelvic floor.
It should be noted that nobody needs to have “perfect posture” 24/7! Our bodies are strong and adaptive, and can be safe and comfortable in many different positions, however if we are overusing or underusing some muscle groups, it can lead to difficulty finding comfortable positions.
Being perfectly positioned all the time actually isn’t ideal! Very upright and unsupported sitting positions have been associated with higher levels of activity in the pelvic floor muscles. Over time, this could potentially lead to tightness or pain in the pelvic region.
Particularly for those who work or study in sitting positions for long periods of time, there are a few tips to improving your overall position and posture:
- A supported sitting position (on a chair with a backrest) is best if you are sitting for long periods of time. While sitting on a fitball will challenge some of your central ‘core’ muscles to work a bit harder, you’re highly likely to become distracted by a task and ‘fall’ into poorer postures.
- Sit on a padded surface. A hard surface may lead to some extra pressure and discomfort on the bony structures at the base of your pelvis.
- Sit with your buttocks right at the back of the seat, allowing the back rest to support your spine. Our lower spine should maintain a small inward curve. You may need to place a lumbar support such as a small cushion or rolled towel to help you keep this posture.
- Sit with your weight evenly balanced between your sitting bones. Avoid crossing your legs.
- Your feet should sit supported on the ground (or a small foot stool if you need), aiming for the hips to rest at a 90-degree angle.
- Imagine a puppet string attached to the top of your head, gently pulling upward and tucking your chin in slightly
Equally as important as sitting well is sitting less! Physiotherapists have been known to say “Your best posture is your next posture!”, meaning movement and changing positions is the best thing we can do for our bodies, and our pelvic floor.
Try to break up sitting every 30-45 minutes with a quick stand, walk or stretch. And be sure to get a few longer movement breaks of physical activity into your day.
If you are having issues with your lower or upper back, jaw, neck or abdomen - then remember that this too can contribute to issues with your pelvic floor! So addressing any of these symptoms is important for your pelvic floor health.
And the opposite is true! Completing regular pelvic floor training for strength AND relaxation is great for helping create your most comfortable positions throughout the day.