Pelvic Girdle Exercises
The pelvic girdle, also known as the hip girdle, comprises the coxal hip bones and the sacrum. These bones serve to protect the body’s lower organs and help support the body's weight. The muscles that are connected to the pelvic girdle include the gluteal muscles, psoas major and minor, piriformis, iliacus, hip joint flexors and extensors and pelvic floor muscles. Maintaining muscular strength in the pelvic region is essential for a well-supported spine and overall muscular balance.
Pelvic tilts are a basic exercise that mobilizes the spine and draws focus to the entire pelvic region as well as the abdominal muscles, or core. Lie supine on a mat with your feet hip-width apart on floor and your knees bent. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides with your palms down. Place your spine in a neutral position so that your lower back isn’t overly arched or flattened into the mat. Extend your fingers toward your feet. Inhale. Exhale and draw your navel toward your spine, tilting your pelvis toward your rib cage and pressing your lower back into the mat. Hold the tilt for several seconds before releasing back into neutral position.
Hip circles alternately contract and stretch the muscles attached to the pelvic girdle. They are best performed on a stability ball for full range of motion. Sit centered and tall on the ball with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Trace a circle with your hips by pushing your left hip out to the left, taking your hips back as you re-center your body, pushing your right hip to the right and bringing your hips back to the center while tilting your pelvis forward. You don’t need to stick to circles to make the exercise beneficial — you can trace a figure-8 or even attempt to “write” your name through hip movement.
Kegels strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles, the most important of which is the pubococcygeus, or PC, muscle. The PC muscle is hammock-shaped and supports the body’s lower organs. In pregnant women, it also supports the weight of the growing fetus. Kegels are named for Dr. Arnold Kegel, who invented the exercise after extensive study of the pelvic floor. Activation of the PC muscle is somewhat like stopping the flow of urine, or drawing in the anal sphincter to prevent gas leakage. You perform the exercise while sitting on a stability ball or any comfortable chair. Contract the PC muscle without tightening your glutes. Hold each contraction for 10 seconds and release slowly over the course of five seconds.
This exercise combines elements of the pelvic tilt and hip circles. Lie supine on a mat, your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Relax your hands palms down at your sides. Press your knees and the insides of your feet together. Draw your navel toward your spine as you contract your glutes to lift your hips 1 or 2 inches off the floor. Keep your legs pressed together as you take your knees to one side, slightly rotating your hips. Keep the movement small. Bring your knees and hips back to the center without lowering your body, and rotate toward the other side. Move from left to right fluidly for several repetitions.
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- Pelvic floor training. InformedHealth.org. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Updated December 30, 2016.
- Kegel Exercises: How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles, Staff Writers, mayoclinic.com
- Pelvic Floor Health. Strengthening Your Core, Carrie Levine, CNM, MSN, womentowomen.com
Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.