As we’re officially into the new year, it can be easy to forget about keeping ourselves fit - especially with all of those turkey leftovers to eat!
Our pelvic floor gives us better control over our bladder and bowel. Weakened pelvic floor muscles are not able to fully support internal organs which can cause problems when trying to control the release of bodily fluids. Fear not, we've compiled a few tips on how you can improve your pelvic floor health for the new year!
The best way to improve your pelvic floor muscles is by carrying out some basic exercises:
Kegels are the act of contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. If you experience urine leakage frequently, perhaps from sneezing, laughing, jumping or coughing, then you could benefit greatly from Kegels. The main muscle worked in this exercise is the pelvic floor and the best part is that you don't need any equipment to do this! All you need to do is:
- Identify the right muscles. The easiest way to do this is to stop urination midway—what you feel with this is your pelvic floor muscles.
- Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Then release for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.
Squats work your glutes and have a huge benefit in terms of strength improvement. When you are performing a squat, always ensure your form is solid before adding resistance, for example, a barbell. This is especially beneficial to your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Before beginning, stand in an upright position, feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outwards. If you are using a barbell, rest it behind your neck on top of your trapezius muscles.
- With bent knees, push your hips and rear back as if you're going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked in and your neck neutral.
- Drop down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, keeping your weight on your heels and with your knees bowed slightly outward.
- Straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
- Complete for 15 reps.
This exercise is great for not only your pelvic floor but also for your glutes and hamstrings. The stop and start nature of this workout will have you sweating - even without any weights! This is another exercise that doesn't require any gym equipment.
- Lie on the floor with your spine against the ground and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be flat and your arms straight by your sides and palms facing down.
- Inhale and push through your heels, lifting your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Your body should be resting on your upper back and shoulders, forming a straight line down from the knees.
- Pause 1-2 seconds at the top and go back to the starting position.
- Complete 10-15 reps, with 2-3 sets, having a rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
Those of you that practice pilates will be familiar with tabletop, as it's the foundation for a lot of pilates workout moves. By including the split, you are activating your hips and pelvic floor muscles, as well as working out your abs and hips in the process! We recommend using some sort of exercise mat for this one.
The starting position is with your back on the floor and bending your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Your shins should also be parallel to the floor.
- Brace your abs and activate your inner thighs while your legs are touching.
- With controlled movement, slowly split your legs so each knee falls outward, until you reach a comfortable position.
- Raise yourself slowly back to the starting position.
- Do 10-15 reps and 3 sets.
This exercise is a full-body move that works the pelvic floor, abs, back, glutes and hips all at the same time! This is another workout that doesn't require any gym equipment whatsoever.
- Start on all fours, wrists under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Keep your back straight and your neck should be in a neutral position.
- Brace your core and draw your shoulder blades down your back toward your hips.
- Simultaneously straighten and raise your left leg and right arm, keeping your pelvis and shoulders in a neutral position. Don't raise or lower your head, hold this for 2 seconds.
- Bend and lower your leg and arm down back to the starting position while maintaining stability. Then switch it around, rising your right leg and left arm. This counts as 1 rep.
- Do 10 total reps and 3 sets.
By doing these simple exercises, you will start to see the benefits in no time. If you have any concerns, doubts, or general questions about pelvic floor health, why not set up an appointment with Metro OBGYN today and let us put your mind at ease.