Your neck is connected to your pelvic floor. Don’t believe us? Whether you’re sitting or standing right now, just tighten the muscle that would stop you peeing if you needed to. Feel how that makes you sit up, puts a gentle curve in your lower spine, lets you raise your chest and drop your shoulders. Aaah, happier neck!
Desk work, driving, computer games, sitting… they erode our muscular strength, ultimately disabling the core muscles that hold us up and allow the pain-free use of our back, shoulders, arms and neck!
Ideally, we would move much more frequently, using all our peripheral muscles for reaching, lifting, carrying, and constantly recruiting your core muscles and glutes (buttocks) for stabilisation. The more you move throughout your life, the more effortless you’ll find it. Unfortunately, modern life encourages us to sit more and more, and our core muscles get used less and less frequently until they lose the ability to switch on naturally. See our story How to Live a Long and Healthy Life, to add activity to your day, and also consider reactivating your core with this exercise developed by physiotherapist Anna Louise Bouvier, who developed the Happy Body At Work and Physiocise programs:
- Stand, sit or lie down.
- Relax the muscles of your thighs, bottom and tummy.
- Lift and tighten the muscles around your urethra, as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine.
- Deepen that tightening to lift the muscles in your pelvis.
- Lift and squeeze the muscles of your anus as if you were trying to prevent yourself from passing wind.
- Identify the muscles that contract when you do all these things together, squeezing so that you can feel the muscles around your front and back passages lift inside your pelvis.
- Remember, your thighs, bottom and outer abs should remain relaxed. This is an internal lift, and no-one looking at you could tell you were doing it.
- Hold each inner lift for 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times, whenever you have the opportunity—when you’re sitting in traffic, in a meeting or conference, queuing at the checkout, on the bus, watching TV.
- Relax afterwards. It’s not good for your body to constantly clench your pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening them over time will restore tone that enables them to switch on naturally when you need them. For example, they’ll help support a healthy posture that frees your neck from shouldering the burden of your head on its own.
Tip: A healthy, bouncy pelvic floor will help prevent incontinence at every age. Unexpected bonus: sex can feel better when you’re able to switch your pelvic muscles on at will.