Better Crunches for the Pelvic Floor
Want to do crunches but heard they are bad for your pelvic floor?
Like most everything, it all comes down to execution. How you do them matters!
Do you decrease pressure off your pelvic floor as you lift your upper body or do you increase it? One of the things I look for is lower ab bulging. If the pressure is making your lower abs bulge, then it’s likely that it’s also bulging into your pelvic floor. This can cause leaks or can increase prolapse symptoms.
To decrease pressure, try starting with a great inhale. Make sure your inhale expands down to your pelvic floor. Feel it lengthen your pelvic floor and spread into your back and ribs, not just all out at your belly. This is especially important if you’re doing an exercise that needs eccentric abdominal control.
For your exhale, focus on gently lifting your pelvic floor (doesn’t have to be a huge lift*) and emptying air and pressure out of your abdominal cavity and lungs. Your lower belly should flatten and ribs should come in and down in response.
You’ll probably also notice this improves the quality of your crunch and you’ll feel it a lot less in your neck!
So how do you tell the difference between body fat and bulging?
Bulging will fall at the end of the exhale right before you go to take your inhale whereas body fat will not. Look for that change in height between the exhale and inhale and if it drops, you know you had some bulging. (More on this later.)
Bottom line: Any exercise can be safe if you’re will to put the work into learning how to do it right!
* If you have pelvic floor tightness, do not lift unless you get complete relaxation on the inhale.
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Dr. Sarah Duvall, PT, DPT, CPT and the CES Team have helped thousands of women create the strength and stability needed to overcome common and not-so-common pelvic floor issues.