Hammock ‘n’ Sling. Sounds a bit like a name for a folk band doesn’t it?
Also, a nice, simple and visual way to describe the muscles around the pelvic floor.
So, firstly a quick, super simplistic overview of what’s what down there.
The ‘hammock’ is the muscles that run from the rectum underneath to the front of the pubic bone.
The ‘hammock’ is attached to the ‘sling’, a horizontal loop of muscles that go around the pelvis. This sort of debunks the name ‘floor’…but you can’t use one effectively without the other.
The importance, existence and movement of the pelvic floor can be somewhat of an anomaly. This blog aims to make it clear what we mean, why it is important for everyone to use it effectively.
We must always remember that we are a whole body and not a separate bunch of joints and muscles. Everything is connected. How you stand on your feet, your glutes, posture and hip position affects the pelvic floor, and therefore the strength of the pelvic floor affects your glutes, posture and hip position.
Pelvic floor muscles should be used to help posture and overall strength if activated effectively. Often, it is sat on all day, leaving it to weaken and therefore asking more of the hips, glutes, spine to do its job, possibly leading to aches and pains. We need to teach it to be a team player.
To be a team player, it needs to know when to work and when to release. If we sit and walk around all day in a constant state of holding it in, we aren’t actually helping to develop the range of movement in the muscles; a bit like walking around all day with your arm slightly bent and the bicep half working. After a while it will ache, overwork and the muscle range will shorten. We want to keep our ‘hammock and sling’ flexible and able to react when needed. Ideally on its own, but we do need to cue it sometime to remind it to do its job, because it can we a tad lazy!
So, whether we call it our ‘powerhouse’ or we ‘zip up and hollow’ or ‘draw tummy button to spine’, or my personal favourite ‘SCOOOOOP’, it is an activation of the ‘hammock and sling’, a drawing of those deep abdominals that are at the core of our core.
Then, we can get the ‘dimmer switch’ working to get just the necessary amount involved! So much imagery!
Here is the ‘pelvic elevator’ exercise if you want to practice at home. It’s easiest done lying down, or more challenging to gravity, when sitting.
Aim is Activation and release.
Cue the pelvic elevator and get into the basement!
Breathe out and release, let’s call that the ground floor. Next, breathe in for 5, breathe out and engage to Floor 1…and so on, each time you exhale, trying to get your ‘elevator’ relaxed enough to get down to the basement!
0 – now’t
1 – a flicker
2 – clear sense of movement
3 – defying gravity
4 – some resistance
5 – lots of resistance