The pelvic floor is an area that many people don’t think about in the same way when it comes to exercising like they do the rest of their body.
The pelvic floor is composed of muscles and connective tissues that help support the pelvic organs. A strong pelvic floor helps prevent incontinence, helps prevent organ prolapse and can help in achieving orgasm.
Why does the pelvic floor weaken?
Pregnancy is the number one risk factor for having pelvic floor dysfunction. This is due to the strain that occurs from the amount of increased weight, the change in the centre of gravity and the hormonally induced laxity, that is put on the woman’s body. Aside from this, the pelvic floor is like any other muscle…
USE IT OR LOSE IT!
With increasing age and little to no awareness of how to keep the pelvic floor healthy, the muscles and tissues lose tone which gradually, over time, changes the angle that our pelvic floor organs are sitting at. This increased pressure through the pelvic floor area may result in a prolapse.
What is a prolapse?
Organs such as the bladder, uterus or rectum may “fall down” towards the vaginal or rectal opening. These are graded from I-IV depending on their severity.
How can I prevent this from happening?
Although having an organ prolapse is certainly not inevitable, having a weakened pelvic floor without properly exercising it, is. And a weakened pelvic floor will make you more vulnerable to:
having urge incontinence
having stress incontinence
peeing often throughout the day, >7x in a 24 hour period
having an overactive or hypertonic bladder
What can I do about it?
Learn how to engage your pelvic floor and add some simple movements in with it. This is how Pfilates training started. Research supports that the pelvic floor will have a stronger muscle contraction when the gluteals and adductor muscles are co-contracting. Check out www.pfilates.com for more information.
Who needs to do pelvic floor fitness?
Everyone, men and women included
Why are many people not aware of the importance of pelvic floor fitness?
It can be a sensitive and sometimes embarrassing subject to bring up to your Doctor. By the time a woman does, it is often so far along that surgery may be the only option left.
Signs and Symptoms of possible pelvic floor dysfunction
stress incontinence (leaking when coughing, sneezing or during physical activity)
urge incontinence (feeling an incredible urge to pee and experiencing some leakage)
peeing more often, >7x per 24 hours
pain in the pelvic floor region with intercourse
difficulty with bladder or bowel movements
urine stream is not smooth and constant
straining a lot with bowel movements
What to do?
Of course, see your family Doctor to rule out any serious possibilities. Find a pfilates teacher in your area to begin your pelvic floor fitness training.
What needs to be changed?
More education and awareness is needed, especially in the women’s health fields. Definitely women postnatal and women post hysterectomy need to have a pelvic floor program of exercises ready to go for them. People need to begin their pelvic floor fitness at a much earlier age and incorporate it into their other exercise programs. Keeping our pelvic floors strong and healthy will help to prevent complications further down the road.
Why not do just a kegel?
Kegels are great, but most people don’t want to just lay there and try to squeeze their pelvic floor muscles. It can be rather boring and people often report how they feel as if they are doing absolutely nothing. Adding movement makes the exercise much more enjoyable.
See a pfilates trained person to help you get started.