Today we’re going to go into the topic of big importance for women: pelvic floor strength. When you first hear the word “pelvic floor” I’m sure your mind went exactly where most minds go- what on earth is that?! Well, keep reading to find out not only what your pelvic floor is but why it is important and how we incorporate it into our daily workouts here at True40!
The pelvic floor muscles are located between your tailbone (technically called the coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. This group of muscles support the bowel and bladder (and more importantly for women, your uterus)! When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and supported. The pelvic floor is also responsible for function of urination, bowel movements, sex, pregnancy, and delivery! Which is extremely important for women.
What happens if you have a weak pelvic floor? Well, your pelvic floor muscles affect a lot of muscles in your body and having a weakened muscle group can affect all of these in a different way. Keep reading to see how a weak pelvic floor can affect each system within the body!
Starting out with our urinary system. Lack of a strong pelvic floor and other tissues can lead to a loss in bladder control. This can then build and lead to frequent bladder infections. Strong pelvic muscles help to prevent incontinence and prolapse of the bladder, uterus, and bowel. Not great right?? As women most of us already have a small bladder and this makes it even worse.
Moving onto the reproductive system. I’m sure you have all heard something along the lines of how having a strong pelvic floor can help with pregnancy and delivering a baby; we’re here to tell you that is correct! Your pelvic floor muscles constantly work in harmony with your back and abdominal muscles. Just like with any other muscle group, if you have weaker muscles in one area muscles from a different area are forced to pick up the slack which can result in you becoming sorer and your muscles becoming overworked. Strong pelvic floor muscles are highly recommended during pregnancy for our pregnant ladies. Strong pelvic floor muscles will help keep your pregnancy smooth and comfortable. This strong pelvic floor will also help in reducing urinary incontinence! One more perk of these pelvic floor muscles is having strong pelvic floor muscles will help women recover from childbirth faster. Pretty cool that a group of muscles can do all this right?!? So, how do we constantly work these muscles in the studio?
First things first, it’s important we can identify where these muscles are. I know we just went into heavy detail describing where they are, but sometimes it’s much harder to find those muscles and feel them moving! How do we do that?!?! Lay flat on the ground and direct your attention to your pelvic floor muscles. Start to think about relaxing your abdominal muscles but make sure not to hold your breath. Gradually lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping the flow of urine or stopping wind escaping. Release gently and slowly. Boom- you should find your pelvic floor muscles with this!
Exercises we constantly perform in the studio that are helpful for strengthening these muscles:
- Glute bridges
- Squats (whether it’s a chair squat, sumo squat or any type of squat!)
- Bird dogs
- Tabletop Dead Bugs
You may see a pattern here; a lot of core exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor. Having a strong core can really help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles! Think about exercises that feel like they’re getting deep into your core, specifically your transverse abdominals. These are great for pelvic floor strengthening!
For all my pregnant women out there, a strong pelvic floor is SUPER important to you and to your future baby! During pregnancy, the pelvic floor stretches to make room for the growing baby. Over time, the muscles become weak from being weighed down. Bouncing back from muscle weakness isn’t as easy in this specific muscle group as it is in others. Weak pelvic floor muscles can make you miserable. Starting out your pregnancy with strong pelvic floor muscles helps decrease the damage these muscles experience under the strain of carrying a child. Another pro that we’ve already mentioned, having healthy pelvic floor muscles also makes labor and delivery less risky which means less stress for your baby! No matter which way you birth your child (whether it’s a C-section or a vaginal birth) the pelvic floor muscles undergo a ton of stress and strain during delivery. Healthy pelvic floor means quicker recovery after childbirth. Pelvic floor health has only recently become a topic in women who are either pregnant or have had multiple children. In the past, women have not really considered the importance of these muscles until after they’ve had a couple of babies and they begin to experience problems. It’s so important to begin preparing your pelvic floor muscles for delivery and to have a healthy pregnancy.
In summary, having strong pelvic floor muscles is important women but especially for all our pregnant ladies! Our workout is designed to be low impact, high intensity hour long class but it is also designed with small movements designed to help muscle groups we wouldn’t think to use a lot of the time. True40 workouts are a great place to begin strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and bonus, they’re safe during pregnancy! It’s super important to think about this group of muscles when you think about your day-to-day life. You can constantly train these muscles without specifically being in a True40 class but being in a class is also helpful! When should you start worrying about your pelvic floor muscles? Now!! We all should be worried about these muscles and about strengthening them. If we start strengthening them now when we encounter different things in the future, we’ll be ready to go!