How do you strengthen your pelvic floor? Learn how to walk healthy
Incontinence, back pain, and decreased sexual pleasure. These are just some of the issues that occur due to weak pelvic floor muscles. But did you know that you can correct them and even prevent them with a simple change in your life?
Here’s the most important exercise you can do to activate your pelvic floor: healthy and natural walking.
Natural walking activates your pelvic floor — and improves your mood :-).
The pelvic floor does more than you think
The pelvic floor is a collection of muscles, which you can think of as a “bowl” for your organs. The muscles in your pelvic region house and support the bladder, colon, uterus, and ovaries. However, their function doesn’t end there. These muscles also play a significant role in walking and are also part of the system that stabilizes the spine.
Loose pelvic floor muscles also affect men
For good pelvic floor function, it needs to be firm and flexible. The muscles in this area can weaken over time as a result of pelvic surgeries or giving birth. But the number one factor you probably didn’t know affects your pelvic floor: unnatural walking.
The pelvic floor doesn’t weaken with age. It loosens over the years when we use our bodies differently than nature intended. An unnatural stride is something the majority of us suffer from without knowing it, and most of us can unlearn it.
What is the connection between our gait and the pelvic floor?
As we mentioned in a previous post about healthy running, the entire human body is a single interconnected system. Think of your body as a chain of connected cogs. If you throw one out of place, you throw off the entire system.
But what does that mean in practice?
The fundamental problem is wearing ordinary shoes. Have you ever noticed that shoes have a completely different shape than human feet? They typically have a narrow toe box that squeezes your toes together — and that is where our first cog gets derailed.
This is what a natural footprint looks like. Can you guess what it looks like in a regular shoe?
When your toes are squished together in this way, your feet cannot stabilize your body naturally. As a result, it places undue pressure on your ankles, your knees lock up, and your hip joints rotate inwards. To compensate, your pelvis and pelvic floor have to tilt forward, creating a new posture that moves your organs into an unnatural position.
In response, your brain responds and places more tension where your organs are now pressing on your pelvic floor. On the opposite side, it compensates by decreasing the pressure where it is supposed to be. Suddenly, your body functions differently than it should — all because you put on the wrong pair of shoes.
We’re all just a can of organs
Imagine your body like a can of soda. The bottom is our pelvic floor, the lid is the diaphragm, and the walls are the deep abdominal and back muscles. The walls of a can may not be strong, yet you can step on them, and they’ll hold your weight.
But what happens if you reshape the walls of that can even a little bit? All you have to do is apply a little pressure from the top, and you can crush the whole thing.
The human body works the same: a slight imbalance and unnatural tension put a lot of pressure on your organs. All it takes is a minor misalignment, and the entire system stops working the way it should.
High heels squeeze your toes together. Ballet flats give them space.
In the language of physiotherapists:
Our bodies have several horizontally-placed body structures — the foot, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the bottom of the oral cavity. The alignment of one horizontal structure impacts all the others, which is why misaligned feet affect the entire body.
What’s the foundation of a healthy pelvic floor? A centered pelvis
For the pelvic floor to function properly, the muscles must be placed in the center of the pelvis without being tilted too far forward or forcibly “seated”.
Each time you breathe in, the diaphragm drops down and automatically activates your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. This creates pressure — the correct and desired intra-abdominal pressure. It activates the pelvic floor and allows your organs and entire torso to function correctly.
But how do you center your pelvis? The job falls to your feet. But if your toes are squished inside a shoe, your ankles collapse inwards, your knees lock up, and you won’t be able to center your pelvis. That’s why shoes that set your feet free — and give them plenty of space — are absolutely essential.
Exercise alone doesn’t work
Looking for ways to activate your pelvic floor? We’re hard at work on an article with exercises you can do right from the comfort of your own home.
But there’s a catch: Exercise will only help you in the short term without a healthy stride. If you put on regular classic shoes every day, you’ll cancel out the results from any exercise you try.
That’s why you should start with the basics:
- Choose healthy shoes like Ahinsa shoes that respect the natural shape of your feet.
- Learn how to walk the healthy way. Our free e-book Step by Step to Healthy Walking by Lukáš Klimpera will help you with this.
You’ll see results fast — and every step will make you happy.
Choose to wear healthy shoes. Your body will thank you.
What happens when you activate your pelvic floor?
Even if you don’t have any issues with your pelvic floor, it’s still worth working to engage it anyways. You’ll thank yourself one day.
If you already have problems with your pelvic floor, working to activate it can help:
So, put on the right shoes for your health and your pleasure and learn how to walk healthy.