OK, we have a confession. In yoga class, when the instructor tells us to relax our pelvic floor, we have no freaking idea what she’s talking about. We just nod like we understand and then wiggle our butt around for a second to make sure things are relaxed down there. But it turns out, this area of the body is actually a lot more important than we thought.
So, what is a pelvic floor? It’s the wall of muscle, tissues and ligaments that support your pelvic organs, including the uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum, the University of Chicago Medical Center tells us. These muscles are located just at the base of these organs and literally hold them in place and help you control them.
Does it change after pregnancy? Yep. Typically, after childbirth, the muscles of your pelvic floor weaken, making it even more important to keep the muscles both relaxed and strengthened. This is also why some women have bladder control issues after childbirth.
How do I relax it? You know that clenched feeling you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach when you’re stressed out? That’s your pelvic floor tensing up. (It also tenses when you have to pee.) When the muscles are constantly tight, they can actually become weaker because they’re always in action. To relax these muscles, lie on your back and take five deep breaths with your diaphragm (your stomach should expand when you breathe in). Then roll over into child’s pose and take five to ten more deep breaths.
How do I strengthen it? Ever heard of Kegel exercises (where you basically pretend to stop urinating, mid-stream, even though you’re not actually using the bathroom)? Contract your pelvic floor muscles by doing this for ten seconds, then resting ten seconds, the Mayo Clinic suggests. Repeat three sets of ten every day. Keep it up and you may even notice a difference in the bedroom, too.