Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Restore your Pelvic Floor

These days, having ‘light bladder weakness’ is being normalized by the likes of Panty Liner advertisements. One in three women have some kind of incontinence issue, which derives from having weak Pelvic Floor muscles. Despite it being more common in women, men can get it too. Pelvic Floor muscles become stretched and weakened from pregnancy and birth, from hormonal changes pre-and post-menopause, or from being overweight or obese. Like all other muscles in our body, these muscles will not become stronger or more toned unless you exercise them.

In technical terms the ‘core’ is actually only four muscles – it is your Diaphragm, your Multifidus (a lower back muscle), your Transverse Abdominis (your deepest abdominal muscle), and your Pelvic Floor. It is not (contrary to popular belief) all the other abdominal muscles used to do crunches etc. Just like the core of the apple is hidden on the inside, so is the core of the human body. The latter three muscles are on the same neurological reflex loop, which means if one of them is weak or not functioning effectively, then the others won’t be either.

The good news – weak pelvic floor muscles can (and should) be fixed just by doing regular, daily, Pelvic Floor exercises (explained below). Failure to do pelvic floor exercises to fix light bladder weakness could possibly lead to a pelvic organ prolapse – your insides will begin to fall out, and you will require urgent surgical intervention.

There are two types of incontinence – urgency incontinence (I’m busting!) and stress incontinence (from laughing, sneezing, coughing or exercising). If either of these lead you to leak a little, then it’s essential you get straight onto the Pelvic Floor exercises below.

I have provided an analogy that is useful in practicing your pelvic floor exercises. It is hugely important that you do not hold your breath, nor should it require much effort:

“Sit on the edge of a seat so that you can feel your sit bones. Now imagine that your bottom half is naked and that you are sitting on a beautiful silk scarf. You are going to try to draw that silk scarf up inside you, as high as you can, hold it for just three seconds, and then release it.”

When you release it out, if you cannot feel it come back down, then it’s possible that it was not strong enough to hold for three seconds. If this happens you may need to start with just 1 or 2 seconds, before progressing to 3 seconds, and so on.

Your Pelvic Floor Exercise Plan:

  • Use the analogy above to engage your Pelvic Floor
  • Start with a 3 second repetition (or less if need be, as mentioned above)
  • Then repeat 3 quick pulses
  • This is deemed 1 repetition
  • Rest for 10 seconds before repeating
  • Start at 3 repetitions and build up to 10 within the same set, with all repetitions being done for the same time each time (i.e. 3 seconds)
  • Aim to do up to three sets daily
  • This can be done anywhere (while driving, while standing in line at the supermarket etc. The good thing is that NOBODY will know 🙂

Never feel embarrassed about any pelvic floor problem you think you may have. If you feel you need to chat to somebody, then please do. There is a Women’s Health Physio at Whangarei Hospital who deals with this kind of thing every day.

The bottom line is that you cannot fix this problem by applying a band-aid. It is a serious problem that requires self rehabilitation in it’s early stages, or consulation with a Women’s Health Professional if symptoms worsen. Keep your downstairs section healthy and strong. Restore your core by addressing your Pelvic Floor 🙂

For questions email