Why and how do we train our Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a broad sling of muscles similar to a Hammock that runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone. These muscles provide support and act as a ‘floor’ for the bladder, uterus, rectum and other internal organs along side other important functions.
During pregnancy the pelvic floor muscles take up the extra load of the growing baby, and then during the post natal phase these muscles can remain over stretched and weakened. The pelvic floor muscles can also become weak due to lack of exercise, menopause or ageing. And just like any other muscle the pelvic floor needs to be trained and can not be overlooked.
How to we train the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
It wasn’t so long ago that women were simply advised to ‘imagine they are stopping the flow of urine‘ and squeeze and hold for short or longer lengths of time. this is called a ‘Kegal’.
Kegals are great but they aren’t very functional. We now know that the best way to train the pelvic floor muscles is to mimic the demands of real life. Therefore these muscles must be worked functionally by using the breath, diaphragm and supporting global muscles.
Well, let’s keep it as simple as we can and take a squat as our example exercise.
On the way down as your knees bend ‘the eccentric/ lowering phase’ we should inhale and fully relax the pelvic floor muscles and the abdominals. On the way up we should exhale fully while contracting the Glutes and lifting the pelvic floor “pulling pubis to coccyx and feel the lift” “stop wee & stop wind” “Lift the Anus“ are a few cues that get the best result but different cues will work for different people. Learning how to engage the pelvic floor with the exhale is a game changer not only for pelvic floor function but also for controlling IAP (intra abdominal pressure) and engaging our deep core muscles (TVA)
We must remember that the pelvic floor consists of both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres which can be trained by long holds and also short squeezes which again can be mimicked through movement.
I love working with clients on the journey of discovering their own unique integrated system of the pelvic floor, breath & core.
Ambar Zohra, Pre & Post Natal, Personal Trainer