Friday 3 February 2017

Why Kegel Exercises Should Form Part of Your Fitness Regime – And Why They’re Probably Not!

New gym memberships are at an annual high. Fitness classes are rammed. The joggers are out, and the supermarkets are pushing healthy eating options. It’s that time of year!

By now our New Year health and fitness resolutions should be well and truly underway. Some of us will be working towards a slimmer waistline; others a more shapely bum or pair of legs.

But there’s one key bit of our anatomy that I guarantee few of us will be exercising:  our pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor is the muscle that runs from the pubic bone at the front of the body to the base of the spine. It is often weakened during pregnancy and after childbirth, but not solely – some people are born with a weak pelvic floor and men can develop one as well as women.

Pelvic Floor Weakness

Weakness can lead to little unexpected and embarrassing leaks. But they really could be the least of our worries. In severe cases a weak pelvic floor can lead to organ prolapse!

I’ve written on pelvic floor health before on my blog, here. A few years back I had a scare. It turned out to be a false alarm but the experience was enough to spook me into taking greater care of myself.

I had just started weight-training at the gym. I’m not entirely sure what prompted the concern but I’d read that heavy lifting puts a lot of downward pressure on the pelvic floor, thus increasing the risk of a prolapse among some people.

Having had two children and having stopped doing my kegels (the correct name for pelvic floor exercises) beyond post-natal care, this got me thinking… then worrying… and before long the paranoia had set in and I’d convinced myself that I was about to have a prolapse!

Fortunately, I wasn’t. But it seems I’m not alone in neglecting pelvic floor health – according to research over 60% of women do not train these muscles (actually, I’m surprised it’s as low as that!).

It’s a good idea to get yourself checked out by your GP (as I did) should you ever feel worried. While my mind was put at rest, I was advised to pick up with the kegels again.

How to do Kegels Properly

Unless performed correctly kegels are completely ineffective! What’s the drill? Well, Lights by TENA has just put together an app called ‘my pff’ (my pelvic floor fitness) to help us perfect the technique. It’s free to download here.

It offers three difficulty levels and the option to create a bespoke plan to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles gradually. The app also allows you to set reminders and snooze them should you wish to exercise at a later time. There’s also helpful info on light bladder weakness and a FAQ section. 

The other thing about pelvic floor exercises is that nobody can tell when you’re doing them – yes, I sneaked in a quick few squeezes while sitting down at the lat pull down machine whilst training with my PT (main pic) - he didn’t flinch!
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