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Why and how should I strengthen my pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor and its effect on bladder weakness
Updated on 14/05/2019
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles rather like a hammock, stretching from the pubis to the coccyx. It supports the organs inside the lower abdomen. This set of muscles has a key role in controlling the bladder, the sphincters (circular muscles) and movement through the intestines. It needs to have good tone to prevent urinary incontinence.
Reasons for a weak pelvic floor
- There are several factors that could weaken the pelvic floor 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
Here are some tips for improving muscle tone in your pelvic floor after childbirth:
1. Pelvic floor exercises
- Do this simple exercise several times a day: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.
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. If you want to know more about pelvic floor exercises, see here.
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.
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.
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