Hello core training fans! Lower back lovers! Posture practicers!
So many people want a ‘strong core’ and ‘good posture’ and a ‘flat belly’. So they turn to core training, often assuming if they just work those ab muscles enough that it’ll do the trick.
Sometimes, that works.
Many variables are in play when it comes to getting after these goals. The best results come from embodiment -intelligent, functional training with our body, mind and breath – and your overall lifestyle, which includes stress management, nutrition, digestion and more.
We won’t get to cover all of these aspects in today’s post, because I want to focus in on the relationship between the pelvic floor, the lower back, and what NOT to do when you’re on your mat if you want your body to last for you with longevity and efficiency.
Here are a few ways that your low back depends on your pelvic floor:
- pelvic floor muscles provide the ‘core foundation’ for good posture
- the pelvic floor and abdominal wall (all the way around, not just our ‘front’ body) have to work as a team
- healthy, diaphragmatic breathing moves and strengthens your entire core three dimensionally – all day!
- the lower back connects to the sacrum – so any asymmetry in the pelvic floor can create torque or rotation into the sacrum and spine, causing muscle imbalances, and possibly pain or injury over time
- the pelvic floor provides support for your organs, including the digestive organs that sit in close relationship to the lumbar spine
I just created a new online program focused on pelvic floor and postural health – not one sit-up to be found! It’s called Embody Your True Center. You can check out the whole program here.
When I was recovering from the birth of my daughter, I purchased a well known expert’s online guide for diastasis recti and pelvic floor health. Although much of it was sound advice, there was one piece that felt outdated according to research, and actually can be quite risky for your lower back.
So here’s my PSA: Pelvic Service Announcement!
What was this cue or advice I wish everyone would avoid?
This guide said whenever doing core work (laying down on the mat, face up) that we should be pulling our lower back down, connecting the lumbar area into the floor. Yikes.
We have spinal curves on purpose, people! Flattening the lumbar curve over time will put increased load into the intervertebral discs, train our core and pelvic floor to be possibly hypertonic, and never educate our body about how to stabilize with our natural curves.
The next time you lay on the mat to do ‘core work’, slide one hand under your lower back and see how much space is naturally there. If your legs are at 90 degree hip flexion of less, like when you feet are on the floor, make sure you maintain this natural curve in your back.
If you feel the lumbar curve increase or those back muscles contract, that likely means your intensity is too high. It will serve you well to regress the load (make it easier) and perform the exercise with more awareness, more breathing, and sustaining your natural curves throughout. Think instead of T11 or T12, right around the base of your ribs remaining grounded, spreading out wide into the mat.
When you hug your knees all the way into the belly (like apanasana), our lower back and pelvis will naturally and safely move into a rounded shape, and you’ll feel that contact with the floor – no problem in this context, and totally safe and cozy!
Besides mat-based core training, I have SO many ways to help strengthen your core and posture together, while standing and moving. When we get up and move in 3D, dealing with gravity as we do in daily life, our core happily functions better due to context, naturally, and we get the total body toning we want.
I hope this blog helps you, and tell me in the comments how it feels when you try it.
PS: My new online program, Embody Your True Center, is ready!
Or scope out the online program and join us here! Registration closes 9pm PST, March 9.