5 ways to reverse a lazy pelvic floor
If you’re afraid of the thought of jumping on a trampoline, sneezing in public or not being within cooee of a bathroom then you could well have a lazy pelvic floor.
We tend to focus on the superficial and tone visible muscles and body parts but it’s the ones we don’t see that can cause the most concern later in life.
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support your bladder, uterus and bowel. Imagine a mini trampoline … It’s a springy resting place for our pelvic organs, with enough rebound pressure to create absorbance of shock and mobility without squashing our bladder or uterus but at the same time allow the bladder and bowel to relax or create a void for childbirth.
When the springs (muscles) are toned they keep the uterus in place and prevent prolapse and incontinence (involuntary leakage of both urine and faeces).
Regardless of whether or not you’ve have had children, your pelvic floor may be lazy or stretched out. In particular, the pelvic floor can be weakened in many ways including:
- The weight of the uterus during pregnancy
- Vaginal childbirth, which over-stretches the muscles
- The pressure of obesity
- Chronic constipation and associated straining to pass motions
- Constant coughing (through smoking)
- Some forms of surgery that require cutting the muscles
- Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause.
But all is not lost! The good news is that there are ways, (like you can tone any muscle) to bring back the strength to your pelvic floor and perhaps prevent the need for corrective surgery …
5 ways to help reverse a lazy pelvic floor and prevent light bladder leakage
1. Think about your posture
If you’re slouching or sagging around your waist then so will your pelvic floor, which will over time contribute to de-conditioning. Try and maintain a neutral spine while sitting and standing and this will activate your pelvic floor as well as maintain a healthy spine.
2. Maintain your correct body weight
Just like having a baby places pressure on your pelvic floor so does being overweight. Our pelvic floor can only withstand so much pressure and what may seem to be a lazy pelvic floor can simply be a pelvic floor crying out for help! To prevent further stretching from abdominal pressure try to maintain a healthy BMI.
3. Work it
The pelvic floor muscles, along with the deep muscles of the back and abdomen, form the group of muscles we work when we focus on developing core strength. Pilates is an excellent exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor and my number one recommendation. Kegels tend to focus on only one muscle group whereas focused controlled movements such as Pilates, yoga and barre style classes support your alignment and movement throughout the workout.
Kegel exercises are great to bring awareness (try stopping and starting of urine flow), but then apply that understanding to engaging your pelvic floor in your Pilates exercises.
4. Reduce your stress
Without knowing it, you may be harbouring extra stress down below simply by being tense. Nerves can affect your bladder and cause it to be too active. Try to eliminate your biggest stress and this in turn may reduce the daily stress placed on your pelvic floor.
5. Analyse your fluid intake
If you think limiting your fluid intake is the way to go then think again. Urine becomes more concentrated due to lack of fluid intake, which can then irritate the bladder and cause light bladder leakage or worse yet infection. Another downside is that inadequate fluid intake can cause constipation, which may also make matters worse and place extra pressure ‘down there’ or straining of the already stretched pelvic floor.
There are many factors that contribute to a lazy pelvic floor and light bladder leakage so if it’s something that is concerning you more than the odd leak now and then, check in with you doctor.
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This article was written by Karla Gilbert for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz