For a lot of us, it’s tough to make exercise a priority. We’re busy, we’re intimidated by gyms, it’s too painful, we hate having to face how out of shape we are…so we just don’t start.
But I have a solution: three easy exercises that you can do before you roll out of bed that will start to get your core in shape (abdomen, lower back, hips and butt). This set of gentle moves will jumpstart your metabolism for the day, and start you down the path to improved fitness.
The whole routine takes roughly 6 minutes to complete. In bed.
It doesn’t get any better!
How to engage your pelvic floor
In each exercise I ask you to “engage your pelvic floor”. Before we begin, let’s review what that means.
Your pelvic floor muscles are the sphincter muscles that control your bowels and bladder. To identify them, try stopping your urination in midstream (but don’t make this a regular practice) – those are the muscles we’re talking about.
To engage your pelvic floor during exercise, tighten up your sphincters (your anus, urethra and, for women, vagina) and lift them gently towards your belly button. As you do this, make sure that you are not tensing your buttocks, thighs or tummy – or holding your breath.
How do you know if you are doing it right? If you put your hands on your lower abdomen you will feel your belly tense as transversus abdominus (the deepest of your abdominal muscles) contracts at the same time as your pelvic floor.
Practice this before you start the exercises, so that you know which muscles to engage.
3 exercises that will jumpstart your morning
While you are still lying in bed do:
- 15 Bridges: lie on your back, knees bent, arms at your side. Flatten your back into the bed, engage your pelvic floor and then lift your buttocks off the bed. It doesn’t matter how high you lift your buttocks, just that you clear the bed. Your ultimate goal? Raise your hips off the bed until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- 15 Clam Shells: roll over onto your right side, knees bent, feet stacked. Engage your pelvic floor and lift your top knee, while keeping your feet together. Keep your hips stacked, do not roll back as you raise your knee. Do another 15 on your left side.Your ultimate goal? Raise your knee until it is parallel with your hip, slowly lower it.
- 15 Leg Extensions: on your back again, bring both knees up to your waist. Engage your pelvic floor and stretch one leg out to touch the bed with your heel. Bring it back up to your waist, then extend the other leg. Only go as far as you can easily go – if anything pops or hurts you are going too far.Your ultimate goal? Alternate extensions, one after the other, in a slow continuous motion.
Down the road, as you gain confidence again in your body, these daily exercises in bed might motivate you to sign up for an exercise class, start walking, or take up a favourite sport again.
But what matters right now isn’t how well you do it, it’s that you take the 6 minutes to do it. If you keep it up, you’ll get better every week – and that kind of slow, unglamorous progress is how most of us reach our goals!
Interested in learning more? To make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, please call our office at 604-228-1474, or use our online request form.