Today, I thought I’d share answers to the 5 top frequently asked questions I’m often asked about the pelvic floor, so here goes:
1. SHOULD I PERFORM “SQUEEZE AND RELEASE” EXERCISES TO MY PELVIC FLOOR?
Yes and no.
It depends if you’re pregnant, postnatal and/or have issues in your pelvic floor muscles right now.
I’m not a big advocate for “squeezing and releasing” and/or “drawing up and holding” pelvic floor type movements, hence the reason I don’t teach them in my classes.
That’s not to say there’s not a place for them for some people, and certainly if you have zero signal or control over your bladder/bowel, then it’s at this point you’d be well advised to perform them (under the guidance of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or similar).
In a lot of instances of where clients come to see me with sneeze wee, or that feeling of urgency to use the toilet at time throughout the day, it’s often a case of the pelvic floor being too tight.
So, what the pelvic floor needs is a good stretch out, the hamstrings need length, and the butt needs be strengthened.
2. CAN I GO RUNNING AFTER BIRTH IF I LEAK?
In a word, no.
Before I release a client out to pound the pavements, I ask her a checklist of questions to see if she passes the test.
The first question is:
“Are you getting any sneeze wee, or urgency to use the toilet type symptoms?”.
And, if she answers “yes”, then the answer to the above question from me is “no”.
3. SHOULD I DO HIGH IMPACT EXERCISE TO HELP STRENGTHEN MY PELVIC FLOOR?
Doing any form of high impact exercise like running, jumping, star jumps, trampolining – whatever, when you don’t have full control over your pelvic floor will NOT help strengthen the pelvic floor.
Before adding load or impact to the pelvic floor, you’ve got to make sure it’s strong enough to withstand the load you’re asking to be placed upon it.
4. IS IT SAFE TO STOP THE FLOW OF URINE AS AN EXERCISE TO STRENGTHEN MY PELVIC FLOOR?
This is a pretty old school exercise, and the answer from me here is “no”.
Stopping the flow of urine mid-flow is a good indication of the strength and accurate function of the bladder control muscles of your pelvic floor…
…but doing the movement on a regular basis can lead to urinary tract infections, because it can leave a residual amount of urine in the bladder if performed frequently, so it’s best avoid.
5. IF I SHOULDN’T DO “SQUEEZE AND RELEASE” EXERCISES, WHAT SHOULD I DO INSTEAD?
Golly, this is a difficult question to answer succinctly, but I’ll give it a go.
I take a full-body approach to pelvic floor rehab, and if I can get the message out there that doing isolated movements to the pelvic floor is a bit like doing a tonne of sit ups to get yourself flat abs, then my job here is done.
In the fitness industry, we call this “spot reducing” which essentially means focussing your exercise efforts solely on one weak area or body part in the hope it’ll gain more strength.
Preparing your pelvic floor for labour, and rehabilitating it post-birth is a combination of a lot of different things:
- lengthening the hamstrings,
- strengthening the glutes,
- learning to sit and stand better,
- sitting less and standing/walking more,
- fixing faulty breathing mechanics,
- releasing tight inner thighs and hip flexors, and
- getting out of heeled footwear
That list is obviously not exhaustive, but it gives you a bit of a whistle stop tour of the basic elements required to get your labour-ready if you’re pregnant, and newborn-match-fit-ready if you’ve had your baby recently.
If you’re pregnant or postnatal reading this right now and concerned you’re not doing enough exercise that is specifically designed to prepare your pelvic floor for labour, then you’ll want to book on my pregnancy fitness classes in Lady Bay and/or pregnancy Pilates in West Bridgford.
My Bump to Babe pregnancy fitness classes on Mondays in Lady Bay provide cardio, toning, Pilates, stretching and tonnes of education about what happens to your body during pregnancy.
And, if you’re after a more slow, controlled approach to exercise that helps your mind and body, then book your slot on my next pregnancy Pilates course Tuesdays in West Bridgford.
Had your baby already and concerned about the advice you’ve received about your pelvic floor?
My indoor postnatal buggy classes known as Mummies and Buggies are held 11am Wednesdays in Lady Bay and provide you with a pelvic floor-friendly workout, and a tonne of education about how to rehabilitate it post-birth.