Po er up your pelvic oor

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - HEALTH REPORT -

Have you ever been told to en­gage your pelvic oor in a Pi­lates class and had no idea what that ac­tu­ally means? You’re not alone. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, 30% of women are do­ing Kegel ex­er­cises (pelvic ex­er­cises de­vised by Amer­i­can gy­nae­col­o­gist Arnold Kegel in the 1940s) in­cor­rectly. ‘Your pelvic oor is a group of mus­cles ex­tend­ing from the pu­bic bone at the front of your body, through to the coc­cyx your tail­bone at the back,’ says Ali­son Wright, con­sul­tant gy­nae­col­o­gist and spokesper­son for the Royal Col­lege of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists based in the UK. The mus­cles work al­most like a ham­mock, sup­port­ing your or­gans as well as your blad­der, uterus and bowel. If you can stop your wee mid- ow, that’s your pelvic oor work­ing and, like­wise, when you hold in wind at an in­op­por­tune mo­ment (come on, we’ve all been there), that’s your pelvic oor, too. such as stress uri­nary in­con­ti­nence, while preg­nancy and child­birth play a vi­tal role, too. ‘The weight of the baby sits on your pelvic oor mus­cles, and this has an im­pact af­ter child­birth, even if you have a cae­sarean,’ says Lon­don-based women’s health phys­io­ther­a­pist (aka pelvic oor spe­cial­ist) Louise Rah­manou. And, sadly, your su­per healthy ex­er­cise rou­tine could also af­fect your pelvic oor. ‘ High-im­pact sports such as run­ning, skip­ping and weight-lift­ing can cause the mus­cles to weaken,’ says Louise. You could use spe­cial­ist prod­ucts such as Elvie, or you can try this rou­tine three times a day (so easy, you can do it in the Wool­worths queue). ‘Squeeze and lift your pelvic oor for 10 sec­onds,’ says Louise. ‘It should feel like you’re stop­ping your­self from do­ing a wee. You shouldn’t be squeez­ing your but­tocks to­gether, and you shouldn’t feel any­thing push­ing down. Re­lax for four sec­onds to give the mus­cles a chance to re­cover, then re­peat 10 times. Next, do 10 squeezes in quick suc­ces­sion. Th­ese are pulses that help your pelvic oor to kick in quickly when you laugh or cough.’

Suf­fer from back­ache? That’s an­other rea­son to work on your pelvic oor. The mus­cles sup­port your coc­cyx and when strength­ened, they stop you slump­ing, tak­ing pres­sure off the lower back. That said, ‘ hav­ing a very tight, or hy­per­tonic, pelvic oor can lead to chronic pain and prob­lems with blad­der emp­ty­ing,’ says Louise. ‘This can lead to in­com­plete blad­der emp­ty­ing which, in turn, causes re­cur­ring blad­der in­fec­tions.’ So, the up­shot? It’s just as im­por­tant to re­lax those mus­cles as it is to tighten them.

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