Today, we are continuing with our series of posts for Stress Awareness done in collaboration with Vanessa Junginger of Surrey Wellbeing Clinic.
Problems with pelvic floors and continence can certainly a cause for stress and concern, especially after a sudden onset of symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief promoted by “one-size-fits-all” standard exercise prescription advocates, it is not just about pelvic floor squeezes (aka Kegels) that get our pelvic floor to be strong, functional and resilient.
Why is that?
Kegels exercise some pelvic floor muscles to work in their short range. Think doing a bicep curl over and over again – and never ever allowing the arm to straighten; is this great for the arm as a whole?
Not really, and eventually the shoulder will suffer, the chest might get tight, and the wrist and fingers might feel tension, too.
A functional muscle needs to work well in various ranges. Muscles need to lengthen as well as shorten. Unfortunately, we tend to not be as good – on average – at getting our pelvic floor muscles to lengthen under load.
And this lengthening is an essential component of pelvic floor muscle activity.
Sudden events like coughing or sneezing generate a lot of force pushing pressure downwards. To accommodate this, our pelvic floor needs to lengthen, not shorten. If it does not know how to, problems can occur – hence leaking when sneezing.
Integrating work to lengthen the pelvic floor into exercises is an excellent way to improve the resilience of our pelvic floors.
Here are some great ways:
- Squatting with feet parallel and feet wider – the yoga “goddess” pose (Utkata Konasana)
- Lunges then adding ribcage rotations into the lunge
- Breathing drills to promote 360 degree ribcage expansion
- Correct core engagement patterns – not bulging in the belly whilst not getting that heavy feeling down into the pelvic floor
- Pelvic mobility – ability to tuck and untuck and find neutral
- Hip mobility – promoting good external and internal rotation of the thighbones.
In this short video, I share some tips on getting the pelvic floor work in different ranges.
Be kind to yourself! As we mature, our bodies respond differently. Our appetites change, our bodies look and feel different, our hormones fluctuate, emotions sometimes run high, and we find ourselves dealing with significant changes outside of our bodies; our children leaving home, bereavement, separation, divorce, finding new love to name a few.
The key here is acceptance of where you are now. Feel grateful that your body has brought you this far in your life. Maintaining what you have now to take you through the next years of your life.
Instead of berating yourself about your appearance, try this instead:
Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror, acknowledge where you are now and accept it, take a long look over every inch of your body,
Stare directly into your own eyes and thank yourself profusely and out loud for carrying yourself so well to this point. Know that you are putting everything in place to be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be in the coming years.
If you are feeling anxious about your pelvic floor, take action! Moving towards your desires is far more mentally beneficial and uplifting than focussing on what is wrong, or what you don’t want. Incorporating Kaye’s excellent suggestions for improving the resilience of your pelvic floor is a fantastic ‘move towards’.
Monitor your thoughts and keep a check on their direction of flow. Remember to think about your goals and what you want to achieve. Acknowledge and quickly discard those thoughts that move you away from your goals. It's extremely important to ensure your sole focus is on what you want to achieve.
Thank you Vanessa for sharing your wise thoughts with us today.
To your health,
Kaye and Vanessa
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