Don’t slouch! Sit upright! Did anyone ever tell you this when you were a kid at the dinner table? Well, they weren’t wrong in doing so. To be honest, they were just looking out for your pelvic floor!
That’s right. Your posture can absolutely influence the activity of your pelvic floor. As more and more of us are gravitating towards sitting in our day to day jobs, it is important to know that sitting more upright can make a difference to your pelvic floor muscles. More importantly, for our soon-to-be and new moms, your posture can be compromised when lifting and feeding your baby. So let’s be more aware and protect our pelvic floor.
Studies have shown that there is increased pelvic floor muscle activity with more upright postures. This signifies the importance of a more upright posture, as our pelvic floor remains less active as we assume a more slumped posture while sitting.
The pelvic floor has been shown to contribute to incontinence, pelvic organ function, generation of intra- abdominal pressure, anti-gravity support, and lumbo-pelvic stability. Thus, without its proper function and activity, there is an increased risk for urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse, obstructed defecation, and lower back pain.
The Infamous Desk Posture
As soon as that noon hour rolls around, you can look around the office and notice that most of us are slowly assuming poor posture. I’m referring to that poking chin forward, shoulders rolled forward, back in a slumped position.
Tips for Better Posture:
Always aim for a 90-degree angle at the ankle, knee and hip. This means feet flat on the floor and adjusting that chair of yours.
Perform chin retractions or chin tucks while sitting at your desk. Pretend that you are giving yourself a double chin. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times every hour.
Sit on the edge of your seat
By sitting closer to the edge of your chair, it will encourage you to be more upright instead of leaning on the support of the chair behind you.
Use that step stool
Using a step stool underneath your feet, especially if your feet tend to dangle in the air, is a great way to take pressure off your lower back, and return to that 90/90/90 posture.
Seated chest opener stretch
Clasp your hands behind your back, interlocking your fingers, roll your shoulders down and back, stretching your chest upward, raise your arms slightly upward, tucking your chin under. Be sure to sit up straight in this posture and hold for 30-60 seconds.
The Mommy Posture
Similar to the desk posture, new moms always tend to assume that hunched over posture because of constantly picking up their child and feeding.
Tips For New Moms:
Feeding or Nursing pillow
Using a pillow will help prevent that hunched over position while feeding, while also taking pressure off your wrists when holding your child. It will ultimately become your “Breast Friend”.
Using a baby carrier (ie. baby wrap or an ergobaby) that allows you to carry your child in the front poses less risk for lower back pain and poor posture than lifting and carrying around a basket carrier.
So work those muscles! These are tips that can be put into action every day to improve your pelvic floor health. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your posture or are seeking ways to better your posture, be sure to see your physiotherapist. It is always good to be proactive and to create an optimal environment for those pelvic floor muscles to remain engaged and strong!
Faghani, Nelly, and Carolyn Vandyken. Level 1: The Physical Therapy Approach to Female and Male Urinary Incontinence. Pelvic Health Solutions, 2017.
Sapsford, Ruth R., et al. “Pelvic Floor Muscle Activity in Different Sitting Postures in Continent and Incontinent Women.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, vol. 89, no. 9, Sept. 2008, pp. 1741–1747., doi:10.1016/j.apmr.2008.01.029.
Sapsford, Ruth R., et al. “Sitting posture affects pelvic floor muscle activity in parous women: An observational study.” Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, vol. 52, no. 3, 2006, pp. 219–222., doi:10.1016/s0004-9514(06)70031-9.