By Taylor Broggie, Restorative Exercise Specialist, owner of Anthology Wellness
With each holiday season comes travel. And, those long trips can create challenges for pelvic health. Sitting for long periods of time causes tension, pain, poor circulation and weakness, especially during pregnancy. Here are 3 solutions for more comfortable travel and a healthier pelvic floor, hips, and spine. Arrive at your destination feeling good instead of stiff and sore!
1) Stop sitting on your sacrum (tailbone).
Sometimes during travel you don't really have an option; you have to sit, but you can sit better. Sitting on your sacrum weakens your pelvic floor muscles, causes back pain, and decreases birth space. Instead, tilt the pelvis forward, so you are sitting on your ischial tuberosities ("sitz bones"). This small shift goes a long way for pelvic health. Car and airplane seats often put your spine in a 'C shape' and force you to sit on a tucked pelvis. You might find it helpful to try the following: sit on a folded sweater/towel, sit forward on the edge of the seat, or roll up a towel/sweater and place it between the seat and your low back.
2) Take breaks from sitting.
Try to move for 5-10 minutes every hour.
Car travel: This can be as simple as stopping at a rest stop and taking a 5 minute walk, running around with your kids, or doing a few squats. In severe winter weather, find an indoor option- a mall, grocery store, or even a gas station mini mart. (I know when you're traveling with kids, there is no "quick 5 minute stop"! However, you will all feel better mentally and physically if you take the 20 minutes to move around a little.)
Air Travel: Try to get an aisle seat so you have more freedom to get up regularly. A short walk up and down the aisle will improve circulation and reduce swelling and tension. On larger planes, there is often room in the back to stand and do a few stretches before returning to your seat.
3) When sitting isn't required, choose movement.
Car Travel: When you stop to eat at a restaurant, try finding a place out of the way or outside on the grass to sit on the ground. Sitting on the floor has many benefits: it encourages you to move thorough a variety of positions (cross legged, kneeling, squatting); you will end up stretching while you eat; and the act of getting up and down off the floor adds extra movement to your day. At first, floor sitting may feel strange, but this will help relieve soreness and tension that accumulates in the hips. For road trips specifically, we always bring a large blanket to sit on and pack a lunch or order food to-go.
Air Travel: Instead of standing still on the escalator or moving walkway, opt for taking the stairs and walking to your gate. Try standing at a bar or other counter height table (many airports have electronic charging stations) to eat or do computer work. Once you get to your gate, instead of sitting and waiting to board, walk around the terminal, stretch, and do a few squats. Walking and squatting are two of the best things you can do for a strong and functional pelvic floor.
2 exercises you can do while traveling to relieve hip pain, to strengthen the pelvic floor, and to improve circulation for the whole lower body.
Squats: Keep the pelvis untucked (see the lumbar curve?). Squats strengthen the gluts, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Wrong way: When you tuck your tailbone, the low back has lost its curve.
'Number 4 Stretch': Keep pelvis untucked, standing knee is over the ankle. Wrong way: When the tailbone is tucked under, standing knee is coming forward of the ankle.
Taylor Broggie is our go-to pelvic health guru. We're excited to have her joining us for the BEAUTIFUL Midwifery Conference this coming Spring.