Importance of Pelvic Exercise
Kegel exercises – the ‘wonder exercise’ for women that most don’t do, or don’t do correctly. In preparing to do pelvic floor muscle work, the first thing women usually ask us is, “What exactly am I supposed to be squeezing?”
Think of the floor like the foundation for the home. The pelvic floor muscles span the area between the sides of the pelvic bone. Just as electrical and plumbing lines run through a house floor framing, blood vessels and nerves run through the tissues of the pelvic floor. When you are standing, this floor of muscle support is similar to a brand-new hammock in that it gives with weight, has the ability to stretch, but provides good support. An older and well-used hammock may tend to stretch and sag under weight.
The health and strength of your pelvic floor is important during all life stages. After pregnancy and childbirth, normal aging, or with weight gain and obesity, the pelvic floor muscles in women tend to relax and sag.
Few women actually learn to correctly exercise and rehabilitate this group of muscles, even though there may have been significant stress during pregnancy and childbirth or tissue damage during surgery. The hormonal changes associated with menopause may contribute to a loss of muscle strength.
To help you perform a PFM contraction, or “Kegel,” we’ll share some tips from our pelvic fitness routine: always, remember, because they are internal muscles, nothing should be moving visibly when performing squeezes and lifts. Going back to the hammock analogy, lift the pelvic floor muscles up and in, thinking about a hammock becoming taut.
Think about trying to stop a stream of urine or from passing gas. Because we want to draw up and in, some women think about gently drawing a tampon into their vaginas. Some women find it helpful to imagine their pelvic floor lifting upward like an elevator.
Women's Health Foundation does recommend an excellent tool which helps to coach women with pelvic floor contractions. The Myself® Trainer guides users through a 5 minute exercise session, indicating when to flex and when to relax through a visual representation on the screen that corresponds with the strength of the squeezing action by the pelvic muscles. As muscle strength increases, it tracks progress by moving the user through 3 different strength levels.
Once you get into a regular exercise routine, you’ll notice benefits like better bladder control, reduced menopause symptoms, better sexual response, and, if you’re pregnant, a faster recovery following childbirth.
This information is not intended to substitute the recommendations of your healthcare providers. Women’s Health Foundation disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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