Yep leakage (a little bit of unwelcome wees). The kind of leakage that some women experience when performing a jumping exercise or when sneezing. If you are not one of these women, you likely know someone that is.
Many women find this embarrassing and for some, it can be the reason they avoid exercise. I want to reassure you that this is common and, especially after childbirth, normal, however, you don’t have to just “live with it”. Often we are led to believe that this means our pelvic floor is weak, which can be the case, however, it may actually indicate that it is tight and needs to be released. I am going to share with you six simple achievable exercises that you can implement to help release your pelvic floor. Let's eradicate or at least limit that leakage so you can get back to enjoying exercise, worry free!
1.Release the pelvic floor just like any muscle.
The easiest/best way to do this is to place a ball (one that is not too hard) onto the soft tissue area on the inside of the sitting bone. Obviously be careful of other, important areas, but you want to be able to massage the soft tissue between your sitting bones known as the Pelvic floor. All you have to do here is just relax. Breath! You can do this seated on the floor with your legs crossed or on a chair. Whichever is more comfortable for you. The more relaxed you are the better the chances of the ball releasing the surrounding tissue. After a few minutes on each side, you can then proceed to practice some breathing exercises.
2. Lie flat on your back with your feet on top of a chair.
Place your feet about shoulder width apart and allow your legs to completely relax. This is a great space to meditate as well. Focus on your breathing, breathing into your belly and hips. A few minutes is all you need. The breathing (if done correctly) will help expand and in turn release the Pelvic floor from the inside out.
3. Child's pose position.
With your knees wide, focus again on breathing into your spine, hips and belly. Slow long, deep breaths are the best. This will have a similar focus as the previous exercise.
*If you are unsure what ‘child’s pose' is, just google it quickly or ask a member of our team.
4. Wall squat.
Find a wall whereby you can easily rest your back up against the wall. You want to go as deep/low down as possible into the squat, with your legs and feet as wide as possible. Once again, breathing is of utmost importance. Hang out here for two to three minutes.
5. Bodyweight squat.
Whilst performing repetitions of a body weight squat, focus on breathing in while you are standing up. This might sound counterproductive as most trainers would teach you to breathe out during this time, but for the purpose of trying to relax the pelvic floor, we want other muscles to contract and not the pelvic floor. If you need assistance squatting low down, use a TRX (hopefully in your local gym), or hold onto a pole/post or even a door frame.
6. Teach the body how to create intra-abdominal pressure.
This can be very difficult as most people will find that the pelvic floor wants to contract to create pressure. This needs to happen of course, but the transverse abdominis (TA) also needs to play its part. Perform simple abdominal contractions while lying flat on your back with your knees bent and or on a chair. Place your fingers on the inside of your hip bones (for feeling) and if you have a laugh or cough, you’ll feel that the TA contraction happens automatically. Now try and re-create it by only contracting the abdominal wall, without coughing or laughing. Think of it as someone standing behind you and tightening an old 1600’s corset around your abdomen and lower back. You need to try not to engage your Pelvic floor, whilst contracting the abdominal wall.
For optimal results I would recommend performing these exercises in the above order. Complete the above routine (6 exercises) two to three times a week - more if possible. You will hopefully experience a change during jumping or sneezing due to the fact that you have now re-created a new neuro-muscular connection between relaxing the pelvic floor more and activating the TA more..
So there you have it, 6 simple exercises you can implement straight away that will help you over time, stop those unwelcome leakages. Just because it's common, it does not mean you have to live with it.
Learn to love star jumps again - you deserve it!