During a conversation with Dr. Luan Menda, our pelvic floor therapist at Integrated Physical Therapy, she explained how examination and management of hip, leg and foot dysfunction can improve pelvic floor connection and function.
As physical therapists we like to look at the body as a whole and find the connections between different areas. One of these links is between the inner arches of your feet, your inner thigh muscles, and your pelvic floor.
We see this connection all the time in the clinic, however, its often overlooked in the workouts we do every day.
The arches of feet are an extension of your core, as it traces the inner aspects of your legs and midline of your body. If ignored or not being made aware of, we can loose the conscious connection along this line of muscle and loose tone or contraction of this group of stabilizing muscles. (Think after childbirth)
We look for patterns which may include dropped arches, overactive inner thigh muscles and a forward tilted pelvis (anterior tilt) which can and does cause lack of engagement in the abdominal muscles.
In Physical Therapy, Pilates, Yoga, Functional Training and more movement arts, the arches in the feet are seen as another diaphragm in the body, alongside your pelvic floor and thoracic diaphragm (and others). Making the connection between all of these areas is important for keeping your body working well as a whole.
Simple exercises where you lie on your back with your knees bent and have a ball or pillow between your inner thighs and slowly raise up your pelvis and low back can be helpful in establishing this connection. (I’d add to be consciously aware of each part you are trying to connect with. Its easy to perform he motion, not so easy when there is awareness to connection.)
What is important is where you put your attention, so try to think about your inner arches of your feet lifting, your inner thigh muscles engaging and your pelvic floor muscles feeling lifted and your abdomen switched on. Be sure to slowly relax everything when you return your low back and pelvis back to the floor. It helps to breathe too! Try breathing out as you lift and in as you go back down.
This is not meant to be a strengthening exercise, it is more about sensing the connection between different parts of you. The idea is that when you are doing day to day activities that connection is more established. You may then find yourself standing up and not collapsing so much into your inner feet arches.
This connection along with releasing the muscles in the front of the hips and legs may help you to allow for a more neutral tilt of the pelvis. and engage the low abdominal muscles which helps with general posture and ease in the body. In this way the feet can even influence the muscles in your neck. Start exploring these connections, it’s amazing what you find!