A big part of your core strength is your pelvic floor so here’s how to make sure it’s in the best possible shape.
Words by Tiffany Hall
Whether you’re a new mum or expecting, congratulations! What a life-changing adventure you have ahead. During my pregnancy, I prepared myself for the lack of sleep, the crying, the breastfeeding and the endless loads of washing. But there was one thing I didn’t prepare for – a weakened pelvic floor. Yep, after giving birth, my pelvic floor was not the same.
WHAT IS IT?
The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a sling from the pubic bone (in front) to the end of the backbone, supporting your bladder, vagina, uterus and bowel. These muscles stretch when you’re pregnant and giving birth, which can cause bladder leakage or sometimes pelvic organ prolapse.
Don’t panic – like any muscle group, you can train your pelvic floor. In fact, strengthening these muscles can help support the baby in utero, assist during birth and reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. Think of it like training for an event: the more you practice, the stronger you’ll become, the less chance of injury and the quicker you’ll recover. The pelvic floor also makes up an integral part of your core. So, while training for the well-defined abs of your dreams, don’t forget to factor in your pelvic floor.
MOVES THAT STRENGTHEN
Exercising your pelvic floor can be done anywhere, anytime, and doesn’t require any fancy gym equipment. However, before commencing any new exercise, have a quick chat with your GP – even just for peace of mind. They’ll guide you in terms of frequency and intensity, ensuring you don’t overdo it. Here are five recommended exercises:
Remember Samantha from Sex and The City doing these exercises at a cocktail bar? Kegels are just a fancy name for contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine you’re holding your bladder mid-pee – this engages your pelvic floor muscles.
Contract these muscles and hold for five seconds, then release for five seconds. Try repeating this 10 times, three times a day.
2. WALKING HIP RAISES (3X10 REPS)
This position really helps you to feel the feedback from your pelvic floor.
3. SQUATS(3X10 REPS)
Squats are a double win – giving your pelvic floor and glutes some TLC.
4. CRAB REACHES (3X10 REPS ON EACH SIDE)
This works the lot: lower back, obliques, pelvic floor and glutes.
5. BIRD DOG (3X10 REPS ON EACH SIDE)
This exercise is great for strengthening your pelvic floor and core, as well as improving balance and coordination.
This article originally featured in TRAIN for HER issue 88. You can get a free subscription here.