Announce double-unders in a WOD and you’ll see every mom in class head straight for the bathroom. While those who have been through childbirth are often the culprits of incontinence during a workout, it can happen to anyone with weak pelvic floor muscles. While this is common, it is not normal.
So…kegels, right? Not necessarily says Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA. Kegels do exercise your pelvic floor, but more important is how your pelvic floor moves and works in conjunction with other muscle groups.
“A Kegel attempts to strengthen the pelvic floor, but it really only continues to pull the sacrum inward promoting even more weakness, and more PF gripping,” Bowman says. “The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes.”
Turns out, your coach is right – you should be squatting more. Squatting deeply allows the pelvic floor to lengthen and pulls the sacrum posteriorly. It also strengthens the glutes, allowing them to take more of the brunt of force that pulls on the pelvic floor. Work to not only squat more often, but to deepen your squat, eventually getting ass to grass.
Thoracic Spine Stretch
A curving mid-back (think hunchback) and decreased lumbar curve can also lead to pelvic floor disfunction. It also doesn’t help with overhead exercises such as the snatch and jerk. Try a thoracic spine stretch over a foam roller. Support your neck with your hands and roll a couple inches at a time down the mid-shoulder to mid-back, breathing as you go.
Glute Bridge Holds
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, squeeze your glutes and lift your butt off the ground, creating a 45-degree angle from your shoulders to your knees. Keep your hands and arms flat on the ground. See if you can hold this for 30 seconds. Or, try this as a Tabata workout, 10 seconds on and 20 seconds rest for four minutes.
Lunge, Lunge, Lunge
Incorporate more lunges into your warm-ups and be sure to think about your hip and knee alignment as you move down and squeeze your glutes to come back up out of the movement. Try them with a dumbbell overhead or up onto a box as well for an added challenge.