Lets be open. How’s your Pelvic Floor?!

Guest Blog by Helen Jomoa from Terrain Personal Fitness

Many of us suffer embarrassing leakage when we cough, sneeze or play sport. In fact this happens to one in three women who have had a baby. The good news is that by understanding a bit more about your pelvic floor, and how to exercise correctly you can improve it.

What is the pelvic floor (PF)?

The pelvic floor is like a hammock of tissues and muscles from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone in the front. These muscles help control your bladder and bowel. They also help your sexual function.

Common symptoms of Pelvic Floor problems

• Accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
• Needing to go to the toilet in a hurry
• Finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
• Accidentally losing control of your bowel or passing wind
• Prolapse (pressure bulging or discomfort in the pelvic area)

How to improve your Pelvic Floor (PF) muscles

1) Lie down with your muscles relaxed
2) Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back passage, your birth canal and your front passage all at the same time. Lift them UP inside. You should have a sense of ‘lift’ each time you squeeze your PF muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight for 5 seconds, let go and relax.
3) After a bit of practice you will be able to, lift for 10 seconds and relax for 10 seconds
4) Aim to build up to; 10 long holds and 10 quick lifts per set.
5) Try to do 3 sets per day, lying sitting or standing.

Avoid:

• Holding your breath
• Pushing instead of ‘lifting’ your pelvic floor
• Tightening your buttocks of thighs

How fitness training affects the pelvic floor

If you are returning to training, it is tempting to get straight back into high impact exercise and strength training, however nothing could be worse for your pelvic floor. Going too hard and fast could predispose you to incontinence later.

Exercises that can stress the pelvic floor

Some exercises put more stress on your PF than others. These include:

• Bouncy high impact moves such as running or jumping
• Sit ups, curls or crunches
• Deep lunges or wide legged squats
• Lifting or pressing heavy weights
• Sports involving stop start running and rapid direction change

Safe pelvic floor exercises

Common pelvic save exercises include:

• Walking
• Swimming
• Seated cycling
• Low intensity water aerobics
• Low impact exercise class

How you can modify your fitness to protect your PF

You can also protect your PF by making small changes to the way you exercise:

• Sit on a Swiss ball to support your PF when using weights
• Use seated equipment where you can adjust the weights
• Using lighter weights
• Breathing out with effort as you push/pull/lift/lower a weight
• Reducing the level of your abs program
• Reducing the depth of your squats and lunges
• Keeping your legs closer together when you exercise

Get back to shape safely

Pelvic floor problems are not a life sentence. If you seek help and build an exercise program, which prioritizes PF recovery, your problems can be treated and in many cases cured. Soon you will be able to return to the type of exercise you have previously enjoyed.

Helen Jomoa is founder of Terrain Personal Fitness. She is a mother of two, with a background in mountaineering & fashion buying! She was the first English Woman to walk to the Magnetic North Pole and has been featured in Marie Claire, Health & Fitness, The Mirror Newspaper (UK), Sky news and Breakfast TV. Web http://www.terrain.net.au email helen@terrain.com.au

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