Homage to our Pelvic Floors
It is crazy the lack of attention we give to our pelvic floor muscles. Many of my clients come into the clinic with no idea what they are or how to work them. My friends don’t worry about them thinking they will only need attention when they have children.
They are one of the most important muscles in the body; it keeps us continent, helps protect the spine, supports the pelvic organs and wait for it – most importantly helps us to have better orgasms.
It is a well-known fact that we need to strengthen them when we are pregnant and after childbirth. But that’s not the only time we need to give them attention. Running, stress, straining to go to the toilet and gym work-outs all put pressure on this area which can then cause problems.
It’s not a nice muscle to have problems; it can cause urinary and fecal incontinence, constipation, pain, prolapse and sexual dysfunction.
So ladies, in light of the above, take a minute to read below and pay homage to your pelvic floors.
What are they?
It’s a group of muscles, ligaments, and fascia that act like a supporting hammock which run from your pubic bone underneath your body to your coccyx at the bottom of your spine.
What do they do?
It supports your bladder, vagina, uterus, and bowel. It should tighten and lift automatically when you squat, sneeze, run or lift. They work in synergy with your deep abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine.
For all the Mumma’s reading this, follow the two exercises below. Fit them easily into your day, like when waiting at traffic lights or for the kettle to boil. I struggle to do them without raising my eyebrows, but let’s not be afraid of doing them, we can smile at each other at the lights knowing what we are both doing! If you are having problems with either urge or stress incontinence or feelings of heaviness, go and see a physiotherapist. A strengthening program will take about 6-12 weeks and are an impressive 80% successful. One out of three Mum’s in New Zealand has this so let’s not make it an embarrassing taboo subject, let’s just sort it out.
Haven’t had children?
Even though you haven’t had children, you may still be putting undue stress on your pelvic floors.
Excessive abdominal workouts, constantly drawing in your waist, straining to go to the toilet and long distance running all can predispose you to problems. Have a read of this checklist for some quick tips to protect your pelvic floor muscles;
- When completing sit-ups/ ab work make sure you are not i) bracing and pushing down on your pelvic floors ii) pushing your stomach out and arching your back.
- If you are after a flatter stomach, your pelvic floors with you deep abdominals are the key muscles to work so don’t just do obliques and sit-ups.
- Remember when engaging your abdominals, draw your belly button ‘up and in’ not just in towards your spine
Relax your stomach during the day, it will help you breath better.
- Lean forwards when you poo and eat lots of fiber to stop straining.
- Work on having good posture
How can you find your pelvic floor muscles?
- Imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine, squeeze and lift up around the front passage
- Imagine you are trying to hold in wind, squeeze and lift up around the back
- While contracting these muscles breath. If you can’t feel anything happening, change position, and try sitting up or lying down.
Pelvic Floor Exercises are easy
- When lying down or sitting, check that your stomach and bottom muscles are relaxed. Make sure you are not holding your breath.
- Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles as strongly as you can
- Try and hold the squeeze for 3-10 seconds.
- Rest for 5 seconds and repeat the ‘squeeze and lift’ 5-10 times.
- Have a rest for 10 seconds then complete 6-8 quick contractions.
So, ladies, I hope this helps. If you see me at the traffic light doing something funny with my eyebrows, give me a smile and a thumbs up. This is just a general guide, if you are having any problems please seek professional help.
With thanks to Physiotherapy New Zealand and Mary O’Dwyer ‘s ‘Hold it Sister’