Did you know that if you don’t extend your tail bone, your pelvic floor will never fire with optimal strength? A tucked under tail bone takes our pelvic floor, which attaches at our tail bone and our pubic bone, and makes it slack. And, over time, this loose muscle responds poorly and becomes weak because we are never able to fully activate all of the fibers because our two attachments sites are sitting too close together.
If we extend our tail bone, giving it a slight lift, we put our pelvic floor muscles at the perfect length/tension ratio where it can fire all of its muscle fibers efficiently and effectively.
As a visual, picture a trampoline. If the springs on that trampoline are loose and stretched out, the trampoline itself has too much slack and doesn’t respond with a good spring when you jump on it. But, if those springs are tight, the trampoline is taught and gives you a good bounce with every jump.
Your pelvic floor needs solid springs to support your pelvic organs and to close down the pathway from your bladder to your urethral opening. Our springs are our tail bone and our pubic bone, so we have to keep these attachment sites solid.
There are two particular times in our lives when it is common to see these attachment sites begin to move closer together. One is immediately after having our babies and through that first year or more when we carry our babies the most. As we spend time sitting with our little ones, usually in a very relaxed position rolled back on our buns, our tail bone gets tucked under for a good portion of our days. Then once we stand, we like to thrust our hips forward and our tail bone under to allow our baby to lay on our chest or to provide a hip or belly for them to perch on.
The second time in our lives when tucking our tailbone under is most common is around those menopause years. Our spine slowly loses mobility as we age unless we work its full range of motion. The most common postural change with age is to flatten out the curves of our spine, including our lower back and tail bone. Remember, a healthy spine must have both flexion and extension to maintain good blood flow and prevent degeneration changes. Throughout our years, every task we perform throughout our work day is in front of us pulling our spine, including our tail bone, into a forward flexed position. Unless we actively work to maintain the extension of our spine with specific exercise, we are all coming forward, rounding our shoulders, and tucking our tail bone under, giving our spine the same curve as a turtle shell.
Think about this for a minute! What do you do throughout your day to work the back side of your body? Check to see if you are comfortable lying on your stomach. This is a great starting point. Then begin to work the multifidi extensions, the glute lifts, etc. from the Hab it: Pelvic Floor DVD to strengthen the extensor muscles of your spine. Because we all do so much work out in front of our bodies, it is important to do at least two extension exercises every day to maintain the extension in our spine.
So for those of you who have been so diligent about working your pelvic floor muscles but have not bought into the importance of working the surrounding support muscles, you are selling yourself short! The posture that we hold throughout the hours that we are either standing or sitting has a dramatic effect on our pelvic floor function. As I recommend on our Hab It: Pelvic Floor DVD, just 8 repetitions of endurance and short burst repetitions for your pelvic floor muscles every day is plenty, but I also stress that complete rehabilitation of your pelvic floor has to include strengthening of your multifidi muscles, your tranversus abdominus, your inner thighs, and your deep hip rotators. Strengthening your entire pelvic basket is the key to resolution of your symptoms. Good luck!