How Does Gravity Change the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Hi friends! Let’s talk about gravity and how it can impact the pelvic floor. Gravity is pretty cool because we can either use it to challenge the pelvic floor muscles or assist the pelvic floor muscles by changing just our positioning.
Gravity is a constant force that is always pulling down towards the ground. Gravity pulls down, not just on the pelvic floor muscles, but it pulls on the pelvic organs, too! This is why pelvic organ prolapse symptoms can be worse at the end of the day when we have been upright for hours—gravity has been pulling down on our pelvic organs. But we can change how gravity works by changing our position!
Let’s talk about the different positions: gravity-eliminated, gravity neutral, and anti-gravity.
This includes positions where the hips are above the heart, like bridging. In these positions, the pelvic floor muscles are on slack and gravity is pulling the pelvic floor muscles towards the head. This makes it easier to get a contraction because gravity is already pulling the muscles in the right direction and it pulls the weight of the pelvic organs off of the pelvic floor.
Gravity-assisted is not a functional position since we cannot do much while in it, but it can be a great way to start off with strengthening if you have weak muscles. It is important to eventually progress to other positions as your pelvic floor muscle get stronger.
Eliminating gravity can also be great when having intercourse with pelvic organ prolapse—this position will help to keep the pelvic floor muscles in the pelvic cavity to allow for unobstructed penetration.
This includes positions where gravity is not pulling the pelvic floor muscles in any direction. This includes positions like lying on your back, on your hands and knees, lying on your side. This is a great place to perform exercises if your pelvic floor muscles are stronger but struggle in more upright positions. Plus, if you are postpartum being on your hands and knees can be a great position to do exercises while entertaining your baby on the floor with you.
This includes upright positions, like sitting or standing. Gravity pulls down on the pelvic floor muscles and the have to push up to counter balance. Sitting is slightly easier than standing for the pelvic floor muscles. The surface you sit on gives support to the pelvic floor muscles and pelvic organs. When you standing up, this support is taken away and the pelvic floor muscles must do all of the work.
Using the knowledge of how gravity impacts the pelvic floor muscles you can change almost any activity or exercise to what you need. Gravity is one of the simplest ways to modify activities to make them easier or harder. To make an exercise easier, do it in a gravity-eliminated positions. To make an exercise harder, do it in an anti-gravity position.
Ready to learn more about your pelvic floor muscles? Here are some helpful resources:
Watch Netflix for Your Pelvic Floor at Pelvic Flicks
Take our self-paced Power Over Prolapse E-Course
Visit our YouTube channel for more on the pelvic floor
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics: Learn where the pelvic floor muscles are, what they do, and how they work
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Vaginal Weights: Evidence Based Research Review with Dr. Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT