Did you know that crunches or sit ups will not give you the “abs” you desire in fact they may be causing you damage? Did you know that certain exercises done in boot camps on a regular basis could also be doing you harm? Burpees, star jumps, wide legged squats, sit ups, full push ups, bicycles, the list that goes on and on.
1 in 3 women suffer from urinary leakage. If you have had a baby, I am sure that this news comes as no surprise to you.
All women need to do pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic floor muscles form the base of the group of muscles commonly called the ‘core’. These muscles work with the deep abdominal (tummy) and back muscles and the diaphragm (breathing muscle) to support the spine and control the pressure inside the abdomen. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role in bladder and bowel control, supporting the pelvic organs and sexual function in both men and women. During exercise, the internal pressure in the abdomen changes.
For example; when lifting a weight - the internal pressure increases, when the weight is put down – the internal pressure returns to normal.
In an ideal situation the pressure is regulated automatically. For example, when lifting a weight, the muscles of the core work together well- the pelvic floor muscles lift, the abdominal and back muscles draw in to support the spine, and breathing is easy. In this scenario, the pelvic floor muscles respond appropriately to the increase in abdominal pressure. If any of the muscles of the ‘core’, including the pelvic floor, are weakened or damaged, this coordinated automatic action may be altered. In this situation, during exercises that increase the internal abdominal pressure, there is potential to overload the pelvic floor causing depression.
If this happens many times during each exercise session, this may eventually strain the pelvic organs and result in loss of bladder or bowel control, or pelvic organ prolapse. If a problem already exists, then pelvic floor symptoms can potentially be worsened.
You are at highest risk of pelvic floor problems if you are in one or more of the groups below.
- pregnant and postnatal women
- women who have had a baby
- menopausal and post menopausal women
- women who have had gynaecological surgery (e.g. hysterectomy)
- men who have had surgery for prostate cancer, and
- elite athletes (e.g. runners, gymnasts, trampolinists).
- you regularly lift heavy weights (e.g. at the gym, or as part of your job)
- you strain often to empty your bowels (constipation) · you have a chronic cough or sneeze
- you are overweight or have a Body Mass Index that is over 25
- you have had trauma to the pelvis area (e.g. a fall, pelvic radiotherapy)
- you have a history of back pain
If you are in one of the ‘at risk’ groups above or if you have symptoms of pelvic floor problems, it is important your exercise program is pelvic floor safe. Protecting your pelvic floor now will save you problems in the future.
How do you engage your pelvic floor properly?
If you are unsure, talk to a woman’s health & wellness professional who can help to teach you how to activate the pelvic floor muscles correctly. If you are returning to exercise after having a baby or after gynaecological surgery, you must find a trainer who can guide and support you the right way - one who knows the pre and post baby body and pelvic floor. If you have had surgery you will need to ensure you train correctly for the rest of your life to avoid the need for further surgery down the track.
The good news is that you can get your body back after having babies, you can exercise again after surgery and you will and can start to feel and look amazing!
The trick is to do the right training for your body and not rush back into what you used to do when you were unaffected by any pelvic floor weakening.
I wish you all the best in your training and if you ever need any more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Fiona Myers –Personal Trainer – Empowering Women through Health & Fitness (your local women’s health & fitness expert Halswell based 1 on 1 & buddy fitness training)
*References/ Source – some information was shared with your from:Pelvic Flaws-Lisa Yates –Oh Baby Magazine & The Pelvic Floor & Core Exercises – www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au