Invisible Zip: The importance of good posture for the pelvic floor

[Featured image: Google]

 

Regularly in class I'm heard to cue with the words, "lengthen your invisible zip".

 

I use all sorts of cues with everyday objects to enable women to understand the function of their bodies in an easier way.

 

Also, I try not to use too much jargon (a) because it sounds like my ego wants to run the show and, (b) not everyone knows their linea alba (the fibrous structure (line) that runs down the centre of the body from the xiphoid process (sternum) to the pubic symphysis (pubic bone) - or zip as I refer to it.

 

So just what do I mean by the invisible zip and why's it so important?

 

In this image we are being given a perfect snapshot of our bodies to show the zip on the front of the body (linea alba / abdominal wall); our pelvic floor; breathing muscle (over-simplifying the term, but diaphragm relates to many other components too) as well as the back of our body.

This shows 'optimal' alignment, which, in an ideal world, our bodies would in some way resemble and would result in ease of movement, breathing and function. Meaning: unlikely to be experiencing regular back pain, shallow breathing or dysfunction with the pelvic floor (stress incontinence for example).

 

So what happens if our posture isn't so great?

 

 

[Image: http://www.athletespotential.com]

The image on the left (above) demonstrates poor posture.

Posture issues build up over a period of time (that wonderful Feldenkrais term I recall from a teacher some 20+ years ago: use affects function).

 

Only the other day I was explaining to my 21 year old daughter, who was complaining of hip pain, that it's the habits she has got herself into in how she sits with her laptop writing endless essays for Uni. Needless to say it didn't have much impact because, after all, I'm her mum so what do I know? (I'm sure we've all got one of these at home!)

 

Posture problems can be exacerbated from pregnancy, then into the postnatal period (think: all that bending, picking up, carrying). Also an underlying diastasis recti* (space between left and right sides of belly widening owing to stretching that happens in pregnancy).

 

Employing the 'invisible zip' ensures that everything internally stacks and sits in the correct position it's been designed to. If the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles are not aligned with each other (see top image), then this creates force and strain internally = pelvic muscles not working efficiently = issues with stress incontinence.

 

This is the tip of the iceberg and to go further would warrant a blog of lengthier proportions than I have time for today.

 

Poor posture means we recruit other muscles to help us to do the work that those meant to can no longer do efficiently. This means we are over-working our bodily systems = higher risk of injury = more aches / pains = reduced mobility.

 

You can zip up now!

 

Wherever you are, you can always zip up. It's not a severe movement, in fact, quite subtle. Lift from the centre of your chest (remember: gently - nothing military here!) and imagine a lovely long line running from the heart all the way down to the front of your pelvis.

 

You can do this when sitting or even pushing a trolley around Sainsbury's (there are other supermarkets out there, I have not been paid to promote this store!)

 

Want to find out more?

 

I run weekly classes in Watford, Hertfordshire, for women, promoting good alignment principles, helping you to regain function.

More details can be found here: Claire Murphy Yoga

 

* A diastastis recti issue needs to be handled correctly with professional advice. It warrants good posture, breathing and more importantly, correct movement and exercise protocols to promote a healing of the diastasis and a return to good function.

 

Look out for professionals (myself included) who have trained with Burrell Education

 

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