The Pelvic floor is a broad sling of muscles, ligaments and sheet-like tissues that stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body, to the base of your spine at the back. It is very important to take care of your pelvic floor muscles as they serve four important functions.
- Support function: Pelvic floor muscles support the viscera inside your body that is the bladder, uterus and vagina in case of women and anus and rectum in both men and women.
- Continence: It gives you control over when you empty your bladder and bowel.
- Reproductive function: This function manifests during pregnancy and childbirth
- The pelvic floor also has an important role in sexual function in both men and women.
For all these functions to run smoothly it is very important to have strong pelvic floor muscles.
A weak pelvic floor means that your bowel, bladder and womb are not well supported, causing you to feel a heavy, dragging sensation. It also makes it harder for you to squeeze the muscles and sphincters that close the urethra to prevent urine from escaping.
Your pelvic floor also affects your vaginal muscles. You may find sex less satisfying, and feel less sensitivity in your vagina, if you have weak pelvic floor. Many women find that fear of wetting the bed prevents them from enjoying sex. In men a strong pelvic floor helps to avoid erectile dysfunction.
Therefore, let’s identify the situations/ habits that cause pelvic floor to get weakened.
Causes of pelvic floor weakness:
There could be several reasons for pelvic floor weakness. The main causes include: Menopause, pregnancy and childbirth, chronic constipation, chronic cough, overweight and obesity, heavy lifting, bad prolonged posture, high impact exercises, tight clothes, genetic makeup and natural aging.
How to avoid pelvic weakness?
- Exercise the pelvic muscles: Pelvic Floor exercises play very important role in strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. This is how these exercises are performed.
- Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
However, research says that one in three women cannot perform pelvic floor exercises correctly. Especially weakened pelvic floor muscles are specially difficult to feel and control. In such cases electrical stimulation of Pelvic Floor muscles can be beneficial because it not only exercises pelvic muscles for you but also teaches you how to control it.
- Diet to avoid constipation and obesity
Some healthy diet rich in fibres and fluids is important to avoid constipation and unnecessary weight gain.
- Low impact exercise
High impact exercises can put unnecessary pressure on your pelvic floor. Switch to low impact exercises to avoid the damage.
- Treat respiratory conditions
Respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis lead to frequent coughing and sneezing and create added pressure on the pelvic floor. Treating these conditions in time can avoid the unnecessary pressure and avoid leakage.
- Correct Posture
It is important to not put pressure on the pelvic organ support system and practice correct posture. It has been found that the best posture for pelvic floor health is a neutral spine.
While standing: Allow your pelvis to be in a neutral position so that your low back isn’t super-arched or super flat.
While sitting: While sitting on a chair, the bottom of the pelvis should attempt to make contact with chair. Both of them. So avoid crossing of legs.
- Adapt healthy bladder and bowel habits
- Go the toilet when your bladder feels full.
- Don’t go just in case.
- Go to the toilet when you get the feeling to open your bowels.
- Don’t get in the habit of putting it off as you can become constipated. Stay on the toilet until you have completely finished.
- Sit on the toilet with your elbows on knees, lean forward and put feet on a footstool. Push your tummy out above the belly button.