In my opinion the most overlooked question in training pregnant women.
Learning how to get these muscles working properly & efficiently can sometimes be a humbling and complicated affair – so why is it so important?!
- Reduce the risk of low back injuries due to the lack of stability in the lumbo-sacral region.
- Improve bladder and bowel control
- Reduce the risk of prolapse, resulting in feelings of heaviness, pulling, dropping, and needing to use the bowels but not actually having to go.
- Improve recovery from childbirth and gynaecological surgery (in women), prostate surgery (in men).
- Increase sexual sensation and orgasmic potential – this one usually peaks interest the most!!
Notice how the Pelvic Floor is shaped like an inverted umbrella
And is tasked to support the lower abdominal organs
The easiest way to identify the pelvic floor muscles is to ‘hold your pee’ midway through urination (sorry – couldn’t find an easier way to say it). This should only be done for a couple of seconds, then relax the muscles and continue emptying the bladder. This is NOT how you should exercise the muscles; stopping the flow should be used only to identify the correct muscles! Another method to find the right muscles is to ‘stop the flow’ and ‘hold in the lower gases’ – doing both at the same time. Try this lying down, seated, or standing with legs shoulder-with apart.
Working the Muscles and getting it right
- Relax the legs, the ‘Abs’, and your breathing
- Tighten your pelvic floor as if to stop the flow and the gases!
- Tighten the muscles around the genitalia as if to pull up and into the pelvis
- Women familiar with using tampons – imagine squeezing and lifting as if drawing upward into vagina
- Put all this together, feel the contracted muscles – both front and rear passages should feel as if they are drawing up and in to the pelvis. Now relax them
- Do not hold your breath while bracing/drawing-in the pelvic floor as this may cause a bearing down effect on the pelvic floor. This is the main reason why we instruct pregnant woman to NEVER hold their breath!!!
- Do not contract the glute muscles
- Do not perform a posterior pelvic tilt
- Do not ‘crunch’
If you cannot feel the proper contraction, change your position – seated, standing, lying down.
Work up to holding the contraction for 10 seconds while breathing calmly, then repeat 10 times. Remember to always relax the muscles between contractions, as you would with any other muscle groups you are ‘working out’. Try to pair this exercise routine with your daily activities: at stop lights, while brushing your teeth, at breakfast, in the boardroom, etc. This will help you get it done 3 times a day, and soon master the ‘Floor’!
Remember, these are just a few of the guidelines we follow at CoreXcellence with regards to training and pregnancy. In no way should these guidelines supersede the advice from your Doctor. As I stated in Part I, we refer out every case to an Osteopath and Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, both pre and post pregnancy and adhere to their medical advice as well as that of the client’s Doctor.
As a follow-up, Stacie M. started back training six week post-partum, after being signed off by our Osteopath and Pelvic Floor Physio, as well as her OBGYN. With her ‘Floor’ almost at 100%, she is progressing quite well. And Baby Nicole….just ADORABLE!!!