THE PELVIC FLOOR AND ITS EFFECT ON BLADDER WEAKNESS
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles rather like a hammock, stretching from the pubis to the coccyx. They support the organs inside the lower abdomen. This set of muscles has a key role in controlling the bladder, the sphincters (circular muscles) and move through the intestines. It needs to have good tone to prevent urinary incontinence. Read more on pelvic floor exercises here.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR A WEAK PELVIC FLOOR?
There are several factors that could weaken the muscles:
- age-related loss of muscle tone
- lack of exercise
- surgery on the lower abdomen
Keeping your pelvic floor toned will give you better bladder control. As with all muscles, the message is “use it or lose it”!
5 TIPS TO IMPROVE MUSCLE TONE IN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
What can you do to strengthen this set of muscles? Here are some tips for improving muscle tone:
1. Pelvic floor exercises
Do these simple exercises several times a day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles: Sit with your back straight or lie down. Your tummy, thighs and buttocks must be relaxed. Now imagine that you are urinating, and you want to stop the flow: for this, you squeeze various muscles of the pelvic floor that close the sphincters. These are the muscles that need strengthening.
- Keep squeezing for 5 seconds.
- Relax for 10 seconds.
- Start again.
Repeat this exercise several times every day. After two or three weeks you should feel your muscles getting stronger. You can do this exercise wherever you are, even on the go or at work. So make sure you find some time to sit down and do the exercises in order to improve your muscles regularly.
2. Gradually build up your physical activity
The best sports are low-impact activities such as walking or swimming; avoid jumping.
Gradually increase the number of squeezes, up to about a hundred times a day. Do the exercise in all sorts of positions: lying down, sitting, standing and squatting. Don’t do conventional “ab” exercises: the best exercise to get your flat tummy back is to pull it in as much as you can for a few seconds, several times a day, every day.
3. Make sure you stand up straight and try not to curve your lower back
This will relieve any back pain and at the same time tone your abdominals.
Make sure you support your back. Stretch your head away from your shoulders and imagine there’s a thread pulling it upwards.
4. Watch your diet
In order to improve your physical routine, make sure you have a balanced diet. It is important to avoid spicy or acid foods, since they irritate your bladder even more. Include a balanced diet for supporting your pelvic floor muscle workout.
5. Look after your sex life
Don’t be shy about talking to your doctor if you experience any vaginal dryness or discomfort when you have sex. Sex is also a great way to tone your pelvic floor!
Antenatal sessions given by midwives will help you get your muscle tone back and learn to control your pelvic floor.