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Are your pelvic floor exercises up to scratch?
When it comes to training the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and after birth, as a trained Pre and Postnatal Fitness Expert who keeps her education and skills fresh and up-to-date, things in recent years have most definitely changed.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles for postnatal women is really important and keeping your pelvic floor muscles in check during pregnancy is vital too. But the way in which we now do this has been given a bit of an overhaul.
Stress incontinence happens when you laugh, cough, sneeze or do exercise and you ‘leak’. It is quite common with 30% of new mums suffering with the condition for up to 3 months after birth. Although many women don’t seek help so the figure is probably higher.
Lots of research and testing has been done in recent years to find out more about how the pelvic floor functions; how it becomes weakened; and what causes dysfunction within it.
Some of the most important findings are -
When you leak, it’s often with a movement
When someone suffers the embarrassment of leakage, it’s also often associated with movement. This could be just in day-to-day activities eg when you run up or downstairs without thinking, you chase after your toddler, you pick up a heavy object too quickly, and notice you leak. Now we train the pelvic floor muscles WITH movement.
We know that stress incontinence is linked to not just laughing, coughing or sneezing, but also when we move our body. So now we adopt a full-body approach to exercise and the pelvic floor. Doing movement-based exercise which incorporates involuntary work for pelvic floor muscles during your movement, means the pelvic floor is being trained. Some exercises work the pelvic floor without you having to even think about it because the pelvic floor switches on instinctively. This is how the body should work!
Your glutes hold the answer!
There is a link between strengthening your bum and strengthening the pelvic floor. Basically, the stronger your bum, the stronger your back and core. This means a stronger pelvic floor. We sit down for the majority of our day and often turn into tailbone tuckers. This means your pelvic floor is tight, weak and loose, because your tailbone is stuck in a position closer to your pubic bone than it should be. However, if you build your glutes your tailbone will move further away from your pubic bone making the pelvic floor work as it should.
Squeezing is not the best way to fix
The old school style ‘squeeze and release’ and ‘draw up and hold’ Kegel exercises aren’t necessarily the answer. This is because whilst doing a ‘squeeze’ without putting the pelvic floor muscles in a more optimum position, it’s making the pelvic floor tighter and tighter in its current, incorrect position. What the pelvic floor needs during pregnancy and after birth, is a good old stretch out to remain ‘flexible’ to enable your body to facilitate childbirth, and it’s your bum that wants the work.
Workshops and private sessions are available that are specifically tailored for pre and postnatal ladies to aid recovery of the pelvic floor.