How to choose pelvic floor over pelvic flaw
Movement is so important to keep your pelvic floor functioning as we don’t just use it sitting on the toilet, it’s while we’re walking, running, jumping, picking bags up, lifting kids overhead, standing up, the list is endless.
In short, when you stop moving, you lose your continence.
The pelvic floor in women is essentially a hole, especially in upper body lifting, the force runs straight down to it and if it’s not functioning properly, that’s when we can get incontinence or a feeling of heaviness or dragging. For this reason, once you’ve had a baby it’s important to work on diaphragmatic breathing to help reconnect your core and pelvic floor before you go running into any exercise.
From there, it’s a case of building up the weights as you build up your strength.
I’ve pulled together a list of things that help and hinder a well-functioning pelvic floor on my blog – hit the link in my bio.
If you ever have any issues, want to get checked out to see what’s going on down there or want to check you’re getting your pelvic floor exercise right, it’s always worth booking in with a women’s health physio.
I’ve got a great list of WHPs in London and Surrey if you’re looking (just message me), or head to the NHS Squeezy app where there’s a list.
Things that contribute towards a weaker pelvic floor
- A sedentary lifestyle: The pelvic floor is a muscle, like a bicep, and it needs to be worked in order to stay strong. By keeping your body active, your pelvic floor stays active.
- Anterior Tilted Pelvis: where your lower back curves in and bum sticks out, think like a duck.
- Pregnancy: The weight of the baby puts your muscles under strain, so even if you don’t have a vaginal birth, you still have some work to do!
- Vaginal Birth: Causes trauma which can make connecting with your pelvic floor muscles and their function a little harder after birth. Slightly more so if you had assistance (i.e forceps, ventouse, episiotomy).
- C Section: Cutting through all the varying layers of nerves, blood vessels etc means you’ll need to reconnect with this area as it heals.
- Constant Coughing: it puts a lot of pressure inside your core, so if you’re not thinking about this it can weaken your pelvic floor.
- Obesity: Again this puts a lot of internal pressure on your abdomen.
- Menopause: Fall in oestrogen means your muscle tissues get weaker and the form of them goes.
- Ageing: decrease in collagen and elastin affects the tension and means less resistance to gravity and pressure, so movements like jumping, running or building up internal pressure, i.e lifting heavy weights without breathing can be more problematic with age.
Things that help turn on your pelvic floor
- Instability: I’m a huge fan of single sided exercise as your deep core muscles are activated to keep you balanced.
- Moving your whole body: Your pelvic floor is part of your body and when your body moves, your pelvic floor moves. When exercising, compound movements are incredibly effective, ie. squat thrusters.
- Bringing your legs together (adduction) and apart (abduction) as these all contribute towards the pelvic floor.
- Multiplanar Movements – Moving your body away form having your two legs together, i.e lunging in different variations for example.
- Flexion and Extension – moving from the hips in moves like deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute bridges etc.
- Working against gravity (once you’re okay to work agains it). The force is quite intense on your pelvic floor when standing, and you may experience incontinence. Once you’ve had a baby, build up to working against gravity. As you being to introduce impact, mountain climbers take gravity out of the equation.
- Diaphragmatic breathing & Exercises that activate your Tranverse Abdomini (the deepest abdominal muscle layer that also wraps around the spine). Everyone should work on their diaphragmatic breathing as it ensures your core and pelvic floor are working. Exercise wise, a few pre/post natal safe examples are: 4 point leg sliders, kneeling plank reaches, side planks.
If you ever have any issues, please seek advice from a pelvic health physiotherapist as they will be able to do an examination and advise on what you need to do.