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  • Writer's pictureZion Physical Therapy

Your pelvic floor in the times of COVID-19

Living in a quarantined environment due to the COVID pandemic is a challenge for us in all fronts. This can also present a challenge to look after our pelvic health, especially since that in itself within the context of normalcy is already a huge undertaking. If you’ve already been working with one of Zion PT’s skilled pelvic health therapists, please stay motivated through this time and think back on all the hard work you have put into harnessing the healing power of your own body. Below, we’ll review a few of the practices learned together in the clinic to help maintain normal length and tone in your pelvic floor during these stressful times;

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing - there’s no time like right now to keep practicing proper breathing patterns.

    • Make sure you’re lying down in a comfortable position, propping pillows under your knees and head if necessary.

    • Take a mental scan of your body and identify all the parts of it that hold on to tension. E.g the brow, jaw, shoulders,hands, ribcage, hips, feet.

    • Make sure you’re slowly allowing that tension to melt away as you breathe into the diaphragm allowing your belly to rise and gently exhale. Set your timer for 5-10mins.

Living in a quarantined environment due to the COVID pandemic is a challenge for us in all fronts. This can also present a challenge to look after our pelvic health, especially since that in itself within the context of normalcy is already a huge undertaking. If you’ve already been working with one of Zion PT’s skilled pelvic health therapists, please stay motivated through this time and think back on all the hard work you have put into harnessing the healing power of your own body. Below, we’ll review a few of the practices learned together in the clinic to help maintain normal length and tone in your pelvic floor during these stressful times;

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing - there’s no time like right now to keep practicing proper breathing patterns.

    • Make sure you’re lying down in a comfortable position, propping pillows under your knees and head if necessary.

    • Take a mental scan of your body and identify all the parts of it that hold on to tension. E.g the brow, jaw, shoulders,hands, ribcage, hips, feet.

    • Make sure you’re slowly allowing that tension to melt away as you breathe into the diaphragm allowing your belly to rise and gently exhale. Set your timer for 5-10mins.


2. Stretching - Normalizing tone and tension in your hip muscles can help relax your pelvic floor muscles

  • Hold the stretch steady for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.

  • Some googable examples are; figure 4 piriformis stretch, supine butterfly stretch (shown below), happy baby pose and supine hamstring stretch.


3. Belly massage - for those of us with abdominal discomfort and bloating this can sometimes provide surprising relief.

  • You can use a little lotion on your skin - or not.

  • Make sure to be gentle in massaging your abdomen, tracing the path of the big intestine and applying a few seconds of sustained pressure to the points that feel a little denser.

  • Breathe through it.

  • Applying a heating pack to the abdomen for 8-10 minutes beforehand can help your body relax that extra bit, if that’s available to you.



4. Foam rolling - our other self massage tool for the home dwelling times. This one may not be as popular due to the fact that rolling out tight muscles can be a bit of an uncomfortable experience, but just think of how good it will feel when you’re done!

  • You only need do it for 1-2 mins in total, each side.

  • Very googable examples are; foam rolling for the glutes, foam rolling for the quadriceps, foam rolling adductors (shown below).


5. Dilators - Dilators are stretching tools for your pelvic floor, used specifically for addressing muscle tightness. Be gentle and start at the beginning. *PLEASE only complete at home if you’ve been instructed on how to use dilators by your physical therapist!!*

  • Lie down on your side or back in a comfortable and private setting.

  • When in doubt, start with the smallest size dilator and insert into the vagina with lubricant only as far as your body allows with comfort.

  • Hold it there for a few mins (5-10) until your body relaxes and is comfortable.

  • You may insert further, but only as far as your body comfortable allows- this is most definitely NOT a “no pain no gain” situation.

  • Always listen to your body and never push further than what feels comfortable.

  • A total of 20 mins of dilator work each day will suffice to allow for maintenance and progress.


Through these times it is important to be self-sufficient in terms of setting a schedule for ourselves, to be able to properly fulfill our self-care duties. Write out a little program for yourself for the things you will do on a specific day for your pelvic floor. Eg.- Mon @6pm; 8 mins of diaphragmatic breathing, 10 mins of dilator work, figure 4 stretch and butterfly stretch.

If you are a current patient, don’t give up on all the progress you made in the clinic!! Remember that ultimately our work together is meant to capitalize on your own body’s ability to heal and COVID-19 or not, that power always lies within you. As always if you need guidance with your current program, or would like to speak to one of our skilled Doctors of Physical Therapy via Telehealth or in-office visits, call (212) 353-8693 or email schedule@zionpt.com. As a somewhat random note, I included Queen Elizabeth II's address to the world because I found it comforting and inspiring. Just a little tidbit to keep the love alive. https://youtu.be/2klmuggOElE


2. Stretching - Normalizing tone and tension in your hip muscles can help relax your pelvic floor muscles

  • Hold the stretch steady for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.

  • Some googable examples are; figure 4 piriformis stretch, supine butterfly stretch (shown below), happy baby pose and supine hamstring stretch.

3. Belly massage - for those of us with abdominal discomfort and bloating this can sometimes provide surprising relief.

  • You can use a little lotion on your skin - or not.

  • Make sure to be gentle in massaging your abdomen, tracing the path of the big intestine and applying a few seconds of sustained pressure to the points that feel a little denser.

  • Breathe through it.

  • Applying a heating pack to the abdomen for 8-10 minutes beforehand can help your body relax that extra bit, if that’s available to you

4. Foam rolling - our other self massage tool for the home dwelling times. This one may not be as popular due to the fact that rolling out tight muscles can be a bit of an uncomfortable experience, but just think of how good it will feel when you’re done!

  • You only need do it for 1-2 mins in total, each side.

  • Very googable examples are; foam rolling for the glutes, foam rolling for the quadriceps, foam rolling adductors (shown below).

5. Dilators - Dilators are stretching tools for your pelvic floor, used specifically for addressing muscle tightness. Be gentle and start at the beginning. *PLEASE only complete at home if you’ve been instructed on how to use dilators by your physical therapist!!*

  • Lie down on your side or back in a comfortable and private setting.

  • When in doubt, start with the smallest size dilator and insert into the vagina with lubricant only as far as your body allows with comfort.

  • Hold it there for a few mins (5-10) until your body relaxes and is comfortable.

  • You may insert further, but only as far as your body comfortable allows- this is most definitely NOT a “no pain no gain” situation.

  • Always listen to your body and never push further than what feels comfortable.

  • A total of 20 mins of dilator work each day will suffice to allow for maintenance and progress.

Through these times it is important to be self-sufficient in terms of setting a schedule for ourselves, to be able to properly fulfill our self-care duties. Write out a little program for yourself for the things you will do on a specific day for your pelvic floor. Eg.- Mon @6pm; 8 mins of diaphragmatic breathing, 10 mins of dilator work, figure 4 stretch and butterfly stretch. If you are a current patient, don’t give up on all the progress you made in the clinic!! Remember that ultimately our work together is meant to capitalize on your own body’s ability to heal and COVID-19 or not, that power always lies within you. As always if you need guidance with your current program, or would like to speak to one of our skilled Doctors of Physical Therapy via Telehealth or in-office visits, call (212) 353-8693 or email schedule@zionpt.com. As a somewhat random note, I included Queen Elizabeth II's address to the world because I found it comforting and inspiring. Just a little tidbit to keep the love alive. https://youtu.be/2klmuggOElE


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