Pelvic floor exercises. It’s something we all hear about and something many of us do little about. Come find out why this kind of exercise is one you shouldn’t be so hell-bent on avoiding!
Want the good news? Unlike other sweaty Betty exercising, doing pelvic floor exercises after birth (or even during pregnancy) is as easy as boiling the kettle. And they can even be done WHILE boiling the kettle. #multitasking #mumlife
We asked one of Australia’s leading health and fitness expert, Sally Symonds for all the nitty-gritty details on why we should flex those pelvic floor muscles and more importantly, HOW.
Why are pelvic floor exercises so important for women?
Sally explains that pelvic floor exercises are very important for women because:
- They can help prevent problems such as prolapse and incontinence. After all, peeing your pants with every sneeze isn’t great.
- They can help prevent, alleviate and also sometimes eliminate back pain (because the pelvic floor works in conjunction with the abdominal and back muscles to support and stabilise the spine). In short, it might not be a dodgy bed mattress after all.
- They can aid in sexual function and satisfaction for both men and women. Interestingly, some studies actually report the biggest improvements in sexual satisfaction (following a program of pelvic floor strengthening) in women over 45. WHO KNEW?
How soon after giving birth can women start doing pelvic floor exercises?
There’s no resting on your laurels! Sally advises that women should begin pelvic floor exercises during their pregnancy (if they aren’t already doing them) and continue to do them from the first day after birth. Obviously, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor if you have any specific medical concerns or feel any pain.
How often should they be done?
“Because your pelvic floor is a series of muscles, like any muscles they need regular training. Ideally, women should do pelvic floor exercises every day of their lives,” explains Sally.
What kind of exercises should I be doing?
Here’s an expert exercising tip from Sally: “the easiest pelvic floor exercise is the pelvic floor squeeze!”
“Essentially you are just squeezing and lifting the muscles (as if you are trying to stop urinating midstream) and holding this for up to 10 seconds. Relax and then repeat 6 – 12 times. Ideally, you should aim to do this sitting and leaning slightly forward. However, if you can’t get into that position then pelvic squeezes in any position are better than none.
“Once you have mastered that, then the next overall best exercise for the pelvic floor is pilates.”
It’s so easy to forget, so what can I do to remember?!
Pelvic floor exercises are some of the easiest ones to work into your day because you can do them without anyone else knowing.
Sally’s advice is to “anchor pelvic floor exercises to other daily activities that you do. So just like Pavlov’s dog, you begin to associate one activity with another. It might be a series of ‘squeeze and lift’ exercises while stopped at traffic lights, cleaning your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil. Train yourself to train your pelvic floor whenever you do these activities and soon pelvic floor exercises will become a daily habit. You will be doing them without even having to think about it!” #winning
What happens if I DON’T do my pelvic floor exercises after birth?
The cold hard truth of the matter is if you DON’T do any pelvic floor exercises after delivering each baby, you’re paving the way for a very damp and soggy knickers future.
Unfortunately, the pelvic floor doesn’t just right itself on its own. A woman’s pelvic floor typically weakens with age, so while you might not see or feel any immediate effects of not doing those exercises, rest assured you’ll be feeling them when you reach middle-age!
Still not convinced? Read this mum’s story of what really happens if you don’t do your pelvic floor exercises and you’ll be lifting and squeezing in record time!