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Exercises To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

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Exercises To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

How often do you think about your pelvic floor muscles? Are you even sure what they are, let alone how to find them? If not, you’re not alone. Many women aren’t aware of the importance of keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong until they’re told they’ve weakened, which can lead to various health problems.

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles, also called the Kegel muscles, that are situated at the bottom of the pelvic cavity. They act as a sort of ‘hammock’ and hold all of the pelvic organs, including the vagina, uterus, bladder, urethra, anus and rectum in place.

Pregnancy, childbirth, being overweight, the menopause, ageing, having a chronic and persistent cough and even long distance running can all cause these muscles to weaken. A weak pelvic floor can lead to urinary incontinence (from a small trickle if you cough and sneeze to a complete inability to hold in urine), faecal incontinence and a prolapse – where one or more of the pelvic organs pushes downwards and protrudes from, usually the vagina, but sometimes the anus.

Having a weak pelvic floor can also lead to a less satisfying sexual experience as these muscles are also responsible for sexual sensation and arousal. They also work in synergy with the core and back muscles and so help with stability and posture. (If you think you might have a weak pelvic floor, make an appointment to speak to your GP as they may be able to recommend treatments for you.)

So it’s clear, for many reasons, that we need to keep them strong – and the good news is, it’s never too late (or too early!) to start exercising them.

Since being overweight can weaken the pelvic floor, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and eating well, so make sure you keep up with your OYG Plan and follow our recipes for tasty, filling and healthy meals. If you’re concerned about high impact exercise, try some of our gentle yoga and short, Toned in 10 exercise classes.

But crucially, performing pelvic floor exercises regularly targets these muscles directly and can help prevent or improve bladder weakness, unsatisfying sex and prolapse problems.

First up, how to find them. Our pelvic floor muscles are the muscles we use to stop ourselves urinating until we get to the toilet. Next time you go to the toilet, stop mid-flow. That’s your pelvic floor muscles a work. You can try practicing that move now, as you read this, even without actually going to the toilet, just imagine that you are.

Now, whilst you’re sitting down, perform that motion of squeezing your pelvic floor muscles ten to 15 times. Sit upright but relaxed, and don’t hold your breath or tighten the muscles of your stomach, bottom or thighs at the same time.

Hold each squeeze for a few seconds before releasing, and build up to doing this three to four times a day. You can also practice them standing up or laying down. The beauty is, no one needs to know you’re doing it, as you can do this exercise at your desk, in bed, whilst making a coffee or in front of the TV. Make this a lifelong habit to keep your pelvic floor in tip top shape!

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