Since it’s Spring, and the birds and bees are starting to do their thing, I thought I’d turn our attention from the foot and lower leg to the pelvic floor. Everyone needs a strong, supple, functioning pelvic floor. It comes in very handy for so many of our needs. Both male and female of the species need a functioning pelvic floor. As a matter of fact, you could say the future of our species depends on it!
This is another double-whammy exercise. This one will help your knees, hips and pelvic floor. Wait, that’s a triple whammy. It can also help your groin, core, inguinal area, hamstrings, sacroiliac joints and lower back. How many whammies is that, I’ve lost count? Nine. Nine whammies (and counting), in one exercise.
The adductor (inner thigh) muscles attach to the pelvis and the thigh, and in some cases, below the knee. Some of them run from the groin, and some from high up on the top front of the pelvis. They run from the front of the pelvis and then back under and around to meet the medial hamstrings (I’ll explain all this in an upcoming post, so don’t sweat it now.) For now, just know that the pelvic floor is not some weird isolated part of your body – it’s actually quite connected and addressing it will also address issues of your hips and knees specifically. So whether you have pelvic floor issues or not, just do this exercise. Remember, we are learning to move this year, and this frees up a LOT of areas that might be stagnant.
I’m going to show you two ways you can do this. One way is sitting up and one is lying down. So you have no excuses! (you have one excuse*)
Sitting: Place a cushion, bolster, or folded blanket under you to prop your hips up a bit. If you feel that you can’t do this exercise without collapsing your back, use more cushions. Take your legs and open them to a V shape. Don’t worry if they aren’t very wide, just try to keep your pelvis upright. Again, if you find the lower back rounding, add a cushion.
Sit like that as long as you like. Try to open the legs a bit further after a minute or so. Don’t force it.
ADVANCED: Bring the pelvis into a forward lean. Try not to do this with only the shoulders, the entire trunk should lean forward. It requires a lot of inner thigh flexibility, so don’t force it. In the above picture you can see that my trunk is leaning forward a bit, but I’m not rounding my spine. Try to keep the natural curves in the spine, and hinge from the hips.
Lying down: Otherwise known as Legs On the Wall. Sit quite close to the wall, and scoot your legs up as you lie down. Once your back is on the floor, push yourself back (helps to be on a wood floor here and not a yoga mat) until your pelvis is level and the back of your waist is NOT pushing into the floor. Place a cushion under your head if desired. Slowly let the legs fall open. Gravity will stretch your inner thighs. This one can be extreme. So draw your legs in with your hands if you need some help to come out of it.
When should you do this stretch? Well, that depends, I think you would do the lying one when you are home (maybe not the best position for work). Many people find it challenging to find a clear wall space for this one. I have some clients who stretch against the headboard in the bedroom. A hall or against the kitchen cupboards might work (oh, time to wash the kitchen floor!). As for the sitting up one, try it when you are next watching TV, working on your laptop, or eating a picnic in your living room (with wine or champagne, very romantic!).
Try to fit this in daily, twice if you can manage it. You’ll find it gets better fast, and your range of motion will increase, and you’ll feel better and start enjoying it. Hold this one for longer than one minute if you can, or build up to a five minute hold over time.
*Not recommended for hip replacements.