Most of us have heard the term “pelvic floor”, but may not know what the pelvic floor actually does. Your pelvic floor is a sling-shaped group of muscles that supports your spine, pelvis and reproductive organs including your bladder, colon and rectum. The pelvic floor is an important group of muscles that support your bladder and bowel within the pelvis. For females the pelvic floor is particularly important for supporting the uterus and should be a priority after childbirth.
Over time, or during certain activities, your pelvic floor muscles may weaken. While pregnancy and vaginal delivery can result in poor pelvic-floor control, other culprits include chronic constipation, repetitive impact activities, lower back problems, a loss of estrogen and collagen, and even bad posture.
There are a wide range of potential fixes, some of which can be done at home. Physiotherapists ensure you’re working the right muscles, so it’s best to consult one even if you ultimately want to go the self-help route.
Learn how to correctly lift heavy objects
Lifting heavy objects or even kids can damage pelvic tissues if done incorrectly. This is especially true if your pelvic floor is already weak. It’s essential to engage your entire core, including the pelvic floor, as you lift. In addition to that, keep your back neutral instead of rounding it. Finally, do most of the lifting with your leg and glute muscles.
Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight can place extreme pressure on the organs contained by the pelvic floor. If you’re overweight or lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may be at risk for incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
Dietary changes in addition to regular exercise are simple yet long-term steps anyone can take to ensure pelvic floor health.
The exercises go beyond kegels
Using Kegels to exercise your pelvic floor muscles is essential, but there are other lifestyle changes you can make. Sitting less frequently, and incorporating more movement through the form of stretches and lower-body exercises into your daily routine can help.
Integrate a hypopressive routine
Hypopressives are a wonderful way to improve core and pelvic floor functionality. A regular hypopressive routine can also prevent and heal pelvic floor disorders such as incontinence and prolapse.
Contrary to most forms of exercise that increase the pressure in the abdominal-pelvic cavity, the hypopressive technique does the opposite. It reduces the pressure. This can ease pelvic floor pain and discomfort as well as strengthens it and improves its ability to be reflexive.
Manage stress and anxiety
Need another reason to get stress and anxiety in check? Well, here you go. It can improve your pelvic floor health.
Biologically, stress has a very important function – to keep us safe. Stress gets us in fight or flight mode. This way, it prepares us to either stay put and protect ourselves or dash away to safety. To do so, it causes us to tense our muscles.
The problem with modern stress is that we tend to experience it continuously. In addition to that, we may also suffer from anxiety. It causes us to worry even if stressors aren’t actually present. Our muscles remain tight and ready to fight or free and do not get a chance to relax. As a result, the pelvic floor can become tight and painful which is another form of weak. The sphincters can be too tense to be able to properly function when needing to support bowel or urine movements.
Integrating stress and anxiety management techniques can help you cope and improve pelvic floor health. You can try meditation, journaling, talking therapy, exercise, and improving the quality of your sleep. These are just some of the ways to accomplish that.
Maintain a good posture and breathe the right way
While various forms of exercise help us develop pelvic floor strength, there is a lot more time in a day. So, maintain a good posture while you walk or sit. It can help you support your pelvic floor health and keep it working optimally.
To have a proper posture, start by positioning your feet hip-width distance apart. Balance your weight evenly between both feet if you are standing. If you are sitting, balance evenly between both of your sit bones. Slightly tuck your pelvis and your lower ribs in. Then draw your shoulders back and down but without puffing out your chest. Finally, pull your chin slightly back so that your ears are stacked over your shoulders and hips.
If you are sitting on a chair, sit on the edge keeping your back neutral rather than lean back.
Avoid slouching as it constricts your breathing. This will not only affect that amount of oxygen your body gets but also can worsen your pelvic floor health.
Breathing incorrectly can contribute to imbalances in the pelvic floor or even worsen existing issues. Your entire core, diaphragm, and pelvic floor work together as you breathe. Breathing is what we all do daily without even needing to think about it. But, many of us don’t do it right and aren’t even aware of it.
It’s important to remember that the pelvic floor is part of a larger muscle group that holds the pelvic organs in place. The diaphragm, abdominals, and obliques are also connected to pelvic health, so keeping those muscles active is vital to preventing pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence.
Digestion plays a key role
When it comes to supporting your pelvic floor, digestion is also important. Constantly straining or clenching can affect these muscles. Staying hydrated, eating fiber-rich foods, taking a good probiotic, and reducing stress, are all ways to support healthy digestion.
Breath work can help coordinate the pelvic floor with the core, while localized exer-cises develop strength, endurance, reflexes and relaxation. More dynamic exercises, like squats, can train the muscles surrounding the pelvic floor. Physiotherapists intervene with tools like dilators and biofeedback.