Bloomin Healthy Pelvic Floors
What are they?
The Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM) are layers of muscle that provide a ‘hammock’, from the pubic bone at the front to the bottom of the backbone.
What do they do?
- Support and hold in place the contents of the lower abdominals esp. the bladder, bowel and womb, preventing prolapse.
- Keep the back passage , birth canal and bladder outlet working in good condition preventing incontinence
Why do they need exercising?
Like all muscles they will weaken through lack of use, damage or strain (e.g. pregnancy, chronic constipation, chronic cough, obesity,persistant heavy lifting,childbirth), hormonal levels at menopause and aging. If these muscles are not strong then prolapse of the bladder, bowel or uterus can occur and leakage of urine can occur on effort of exertion, sneezing laughing (Stress Incontinence).Sexual function can be compromised too.
How do we strengthen them?
- First find them! Choose a quiet time and place. Sit, stand or lie down with feet comfortably apart. Relax, breathe normally. Concentrate, then squeeze and lift the PFM as if you are trying to stop passing urine. Also tighten the muscles around the back passage as if trying not to pass wind. By doing these two together, you are exercising your PFM.
- SLOW CONTRACTIONS(for strength): squeeze for as long as you can then let go and relax for 3-4secs. At first you may only be able hold for a few seconds but your aim is to hold for 10 seconds eventually. Repeat 5 times initially, working up to 10 times.
- FAST CONTRACTIONS(for power): Squeeze and let go tightly and quickly. Start with doing 5 of these and work up to 10.
How often and for how long?
You should do a set of both types of contractions 3 times a day. If you have symptoms of a weakened PFM be persistent and patient. It can take 3 months to show signs of improvement. Whether you have symptoms or not, these should be done regularly from childhood onwards….forever!
Things to remember.
- Do not hold your breath, just breathe normally
- Do not tighten your buttocks, leg or tummy muscles. No one should be able to tell you are doing these.
- Try and pick certain times to incorporate them into your daily life: while brushing your teeth, standing at the bus stop, first thing or last thing in bed, waiting for the kettle to boil, Eastenders!
- Tighten your PFM everytime you cough,sneeze or lift .
- Try doing them in different positions, eg lying, on hands and knees , standing, sitting.
- Try and do some exercise daily, eg walking
These exercises help put you in control of your internal health and decrease the likelihood of relying on medicines.You can start these exercises at any age, in fact, the younger the better.Men should do these too…to encourage men inform them that it maintains and can enhance sexual function!