How to Correct Posture for Successful Pelvic Floor Exercises

How to Correct Posture

Knowing how to correct posture can help you get the most out of your pelvic floor exercises. Incorrect posture can increase pressure on your pelvic floor and this can make pelvic floor problems worse.

Here’s your Physiotherapist guide to:

  • Why is correct posture important?
  • What is correct posture for pelvic floor exercises?
  • How to correct posture for standing pelvic floor exercises
  • How to correct posture for seated pelvic floor exercises

Why is Correct Posture Important?

Posture refers to the way the body is positioned. When Physiotherapists analyze posture, they usually look at how the body is positioned and how the muscles are working to support the body.

Correct posture involves using your postural muscles appropriately and helps to reduce muscle fatigue and problems typically associated with poor posture such as neck or back strain.

How to Correct Posture

What many of us don’t realise is that our posture or the way we hold our body when we sit or stand can also affect our pelvic floor:

  • Slumped forwards posture (shown right) increases downward pressure on the pelvic floor – this is important for women with pelvic prolapse problems, incontinence (bladder or bowel), with pelvic floor weakness after childbirth or with pelvic pain.
  • Correct posture improves pelvic floor exercises – your strengthening exercises will be most effective and successful with the correct spinal alignment.
  • Correct posture promotes deep abdominal muscle activity – your deep abdominal muscles also play a role in supporting your pelvic organs and promoting bladder and bowel control.
  • Correct posture enhances diaphragmatic breathingdiaphragmatic breathing exercises can help to promote appropiate helpful breathing patterns that enhance pelvic floor muscle activity.

Correct Posture for Successful Pelvic Floor Exercises

The correct sitting or standing posture for successful pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercises involves:

  • Maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back during strength exercises1
  • Avoiding slumped forward posture

How to Correct PostureHow to Correct Posture in Standing

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart
  • Balance your weight evenly
  • Lengthen your spine by lifting the crown of your head towards the ceiling
  • Tuck your chin slightly so that it is not poked forwards
  • Relax your shoulders back and down
  • Maintain your normal inward lower back curve

The standing posture shown left is is the correct posture to maintain during your standing pelvic floor exercises.

How to Correct Posture in Sitting

  • Sit on a chair, stool or exercise ball
  • If using a chair sit away from the back of the chair
  • Position your feet about hip width apart
  • Balance your weight evenly between your sit bones
  • Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling
  • Tuck your chin slightly so that it is not poked forwards
  • Lengthen your spine
  • Ensure your lower back has your normal inward curve

How to Correct Posture Key Points

  • Correct posture is important to ensure successful pelvic floor exercises
  • Poor posture can increase the load on the pelvic floor and worsen pelvic floor problems
  • Maintain the normal inward curve in your lower back during seated and standing pelvic floor exercises
  • Sit away from the back of the chair or use an exercise ball during seated pelvic floor exercises

Back rest or no back rest for sitting posture and exercises?

It has been shown that using a back rest (leaning against the back of a chair) decreases pelvic floor muscle activity compared with unsupported sitting2. While it is important to use a back rest to support your spine when sitting for extended periods of time, if you are doing your pelvic floor exercises sitting move forward away from the back of the chair.

1 Sapsford R (2004) Rehabilitation of pelvic floor muscles utilizing trunk stabilization. Manual Therapy 9,  3–12.
2 Sapsford R, Richardson C, Stanton W (2006) Sitting posture affects pelvic floor muscle activity in parous women: An observational study. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 52.

Inside Out Book & DVDABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support, along with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.


  1. Stephanie Taylor says:

    Great article Michelle – will post to our Kegel8 Facebook. Good posture is vital for women and men embarking on a course of pelvic floor exercises. Hopefully it then becomes natural!
    BBC Bum at the back of the Chair – one of our favourite (when seated, not exercising)

  2. Betty Boop says:

    I’m curious about the pros & cons of E-stimulation for rectal prolapse? You can find various probes etc for sale but how effective are they in helping to rehabilitate a prolapse?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Betty
      E stim (electrical stimulation)can be really useful for women with pelvic floor activation problems, especially women with very weak pelvic floor muscles and yes there are some cons including difficulty using E stim and with thinning pelvic tissues. I will set about writing an article on this pros and cons for prolapse, are you on my newsletter list? It will go out in the next newsletter.
      Thanks for the topic suggestion!

  3. Wow, I’m doing my diaphragm breathing and sitting up very straight in my chair. I’m actually feeling pretty good. Now people in my office are getting concerned. The best thing is that I haven’t even thought about my next toilet break.
    Thanks Michelle you are wonderful

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Ah Pauline, you make me smile – always a treat to hear from you. Keep up your great work!

  4. Maree Bentley says:

    Thank you for this great newsletter just full of useful material. I lent my copy of your book to my physiotherapist. She was very impressed with your work.

  5. Maree Bentley says:

    Do you have any suggestions/advice on what to do when you have a cough? Coughing really doesn’t help much after prolapse surgery and nor does vomiting (even worse).
    Many thanks.

  6. Renuka Coghlan says:

    Thank you for all your helpful advice, I found your site when looking for advice on suitable exercises following a TLH. I am now doing pilates with the physiotherapists , I look forward to your newsletters. Keep up the excellent work.

  7. Hi Mivhelle,
    Great News letter! Very good information about correct posture! I have a question, as far as posture while lying down sleeping or resting, what would be the do’s and and don’ts?
    I have been doing the correct posture standing and sitting that you have written about and feel better.
    I have Pelvic Organ Prolapse stage 1 uterus; stage 2 cystocele and stage 2 rectocele.
    The only problem I have is I tend to feel the bulge sensation. Like something is trying to fall out, it’s the cystocele. The bulge is right at the vaginal opening at times. Any suggestions, as far as exercises and other things to do or use?
    Thank you,
    Jo Ann

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Jo Ann

      Thanks for your comment/qn. I think sleeping and resting postures will not substantially change pelvic floor function. I can say that it is possible to alleviate the pressure of prolapse at times by resting lying down with a pillow placed under the knees. This is also a nice position for taking pressure off the lower back. In side lying I also like resting with a pillow between the legs to stop the pelvis rotating and maintaining a nice spinal alignment when sleeping.

      When doing pelvic floor exercises lying down it seems to follow that maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back will assist with pelvic floor strengthening exercises.

      In terms of exercises for prolapse, these are your pelvic floor exercises or Kegels. The research has now showed us that in women with mild to moderate prolapse, pelvic floor exercises can reduce prolapse symptoms (such as heaviness/bulging) as well as lift the pelvic floor to sit higher within the pelvis. This link is a useful place to start for further reading on prolapse exercises and general exercise with a prolapse


  8. Thank you so much Michelle for the information! When standing in correct posture one should tighten the abdominals (like hold them in) or should let the lower abdomen relax?
    Greatly appreciate your advice! I really enjoy reading and learning on your website, Pelvic Exercises.
    Thanks again,
    Jo Ann Whitney

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Jo Anne

      Good qn I think there are two points to be made in response:

      1. When you stand normally your deep abdominal muscles should be very gently activated, not held in tightly if this makes sense. Problems can arise when the abs are overbraced in normal standing. The deep abdominals (TA’s) should have some tone but not be over braced, this core abdominal activation video might help a little with this concept.
      2. When you do pelvic exercises standing you may or may not sense your deep abdominals becoming active and contracting at the same time. This doesn’t mean drawing in strongly through the belly. This will happen in some women automatically while in others it doesn’t happen. The key point being not to overbrace but if you notice some abdominal muscle contraction with your pelvic floor exercises this is ok too.

      Hope this clarifies for you

  9. Yes, thank you so much Michelle. I do understand, I do feel that when standing in correct posture. Thank you for the information on the core abdominal activation video!
    Thanks again for your great information on your Pelvic Exercise web page.
    Have a great day!
    Jo Ann Whitney

  10. HI Michelle,
    I had prolapse surgery in May of 2013. I ordered the stretching video but never got it to work. My question is when I am stretching do I hold my ab muscles firm. I like to stand up and bend over to touch my toes but when I come back up I feel pressure in my vagina. Also when I bend down to pick something up off the floor is bending over better or squatting? I Train horses for a living and my work requires a lot of bending/lifting. riding is okay now except when I am on a young horse that is a little rough in the trot, the bouncing irritates things.
    Thanks so much for your videos on exercising,

  11. I have a pelvic prolaps since 1 year and I do very carefully all the excercises you mention. It took me more then half a year until I could do the proplaps exercise in the right way without holding the breath. One day I just could do it,before I did my best to not hold the breath,but in vine.
    Now concerning the slumper position and how to correct it,I`d like to let you know how I could correct my slumper position. Just telling yourself to stand in the right position is easy but to do it is a different problem.Now I got acupuncture and cupping therapy on my back and legs from my daughter and thanks to her therapy I am now able to stand and sit very easily in a straight position, even when walking .Thanks to this it gives me a very different feeling,but the prolaps is still there.I hope and believe to also overcome the prolaps in the next few months,as I also use tibetan moxa and stick therapy which my daughters and I learnt from a famous tibetan doctor. When the prolaps has improved,I will let you know. Usually after 4PM I can`t empy the bladder well,so mongolian horme and tibetan stick therapy helps me a lot . Not only for the bladder,but while doing horme my inner muscles are automatically contracting since a few months.
    You write about How to correct posture in sitting. Is crossleged ok? When sitting in front of the TV we all sit on a cushion on the floor,so I sit crossleged and hope this is not too bad!
    Beside the prolaps I also have a curved spine like an S and my left hip is bending completely to the left,so I also try to cure this through tibetan therapy.

    Thank you so much Michelle for your work you are doing for all of us.

  12. Michelle, I am new to your site, trying to find answers and information regarding bladder prolapse after natural childbirth. In 2009, I had tail bone pain daily and went to see a pelvic floor therapist who I worked with for a few months but my insurance wouldn’t continue coverage so I had to stop going. At any rate, at that time, I was told I had pelvic floor dysfunction. I couldn’t hold kegels and still can’t but now it’s worse since I have slight prolapse. Structurally, I have scoliosis starting from my bottom ribs down so I have always had issues with my posture. Standing up straight is uncomfortable and painful. Outside of this, my tailbone is forward and curved to my left side. It’s been that way for years. This too causes issues for my posture because sitting is uncomfortable. Unless I am sitting with my legs criss crossed, I never am sitting on my “sits bones”. I always feel my squished tail bone area first. I discovered a few things reading your website. 1) I believe I may have Vaginismus-painful intercourse for years (I have Endometriosis and had it surgically removed in 2013) but sex is still painful. 2) If the pelvic floor is like a hammock and my tailbone is cocked, then my pelvic floor is tight or weak or both and there is no support down there from the public bone to the tailbone. I’m currently working with my chiropractor to hook, stretch, and try to release the tail bone but he says it could take long since it’s an old injury per se. How can I work on posture? (Oh, I’m also still breastfeeding so I’m slumped forward daily, putting more pressure on the pelvic floor and prolapse. What do I work on first?-Posture, pelvic floor, vaginismus, etc? HELP PLEASE!!!

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Liana

      Thanks for your comment, you provide a really good description of your problem. I think a good place to start would be breathing. I know it sounds simplistic but breathing well can help you start to relax your pelvic floor, improve your posture and core control and ultimately pelvic floor strengthening.

      Liana you will find information here on diaphragmatic breathing and more information you can watch on breathing to help with pelvic floor relaxation in this video.

      Breathing and pelvic floor relaxation are often a really good place to start, especially since you’re busy looking after a baby. Slow everything right down and take it gradually the key is to learn to relax your pelvic floor and then gradually improve the pelvic floor supports over time with good core and pelvic floor training.

      Best wishes