A short blog this week but an important one and about something that is often overlooked and not talked about.
Ladies, do you strengthen your pelvic floor? Having a weak pelvic floor can lead to loss of bladder control (stress incontinence) when laughing, sneezing running and jumping.
The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bowel and bladder and they need strengthening just like the rest of the muscles in the body. A weak pelvic floor can be made worse by certain types of exercise such as lifting heavy weights and high impact exercise such as jumping.
There are many causes of a weak pelvic floor including pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, constant or a prolonged cough, chronic constipation, low levels of oestrogen after menopause and tension in the pelvic floor muscles caused by painful periods and endometriosis.
Specific pelvic floor exercises will improve muscle strength, and everyone should be doing them starting as early as in your 20s, although you can start at any time and it’s never too late to start. Having a strong core helps to restore support to the pelvic floor muscles, so don’t forget to do those core exercises too! 😊
We’re concentrating on specific pelvic floor exercises that can be done anywhere at any time. Try to do 5 to 6 sets a day. Follow our step-by-step guide to building strong pelvic floor muscles.
You can do these either sitting or standing, any time you have a spare few minutes whether that’s waiting for the kettle to boil or watching the tv.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Concentrate on your pelvic floor muscles and try to relax your abs. Without holding your breath, lift and tightly squeeze the pelvic floor muscles as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine or passing wind (it’s important to do both) and then gently release.
- Squeeze and lift the pelvic floor muscles making sure to fully release each time. When you can do this, add in a 5 to 10 second hold, making sure to breathe normally. Slowly release after each hold and rest for 5 – 10 seconds, then repeat building up to 10 repetitions.
- Try to do 10 quick, short squeeze, lift and releases, making sure to fully release each time.
- Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles every time you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump.
Don’t worry if you can’t feel the muscles at first if your pelvic floor is very weak, as long as you are doing the exercises, they will get stronger the more you do them.
It is important to do these exercises correctly so check with your doctor or a pelvic health physiotherapist if you are not sure that you are doing the exercises correctly. It can take a few weeks before you see any noticeable difference.
If you are wanting to do exercises in the gym that will help to strengthen your pelvic floor, then try the following as an addition to the ones above:
- Bird Dog. Start on your hands and knees and raise your right arm and left leg out straight and at the same time. Slowly return to the start position and repeat on the other side. Squeeze your glutes and pelvic muscles throughout the movement. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Glute bridge. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Push through your heels to lift upwards, making sure not to arch your back. Squeeze your glutes and pelvic floor muscles tightly throughout the movement. Do 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.
- Squats. These are great for strengthening your quads, hamstrings and glutes as well as your pelvic floor. Stand with feet hip width apart, bend your knees and push your hips backwards, as though you are going to sit in a chair, keeping your head and chest up and making sure that your knees don’t come over your toes. Squeeze your glutes and pelvic floor muscles throughout the movement. Do 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Other things that you can do to help include:
- Losing weight and excess body fat.
- Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables to prevent constipation.
- Drinking enough water especially if you suffer from constipation.
- Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking as caffeine, for example, can irritate the bladder and cause muscle spasms making you feel the urge to suddenly go to the loo.
- Exercising to help to maintain body weight, reducing your risk of urinary incontinence and keeping bowel movements normal.
With very little effort, this is a problem that can be solved. Visit us at W Fitness to see how we can incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your workout to help strengthen your muscles and prevent stress incontinence.
Caroline & Hannah xx