THE pelvic floor, with its make up of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues embedded deep in the pelvis, is designed to support the pelvic organs. But sometimes traumatic life events such as childbirth, menopause, and according to personal trainer and fitness instructor at Hard End Fitness Factory on Ardenne Road, Gisel Harrow, even rigorous abdominal exercises, can cause much trauma to the components of the pelvic floor resulting in conditions such as incontinence or prolapse.
“Regular exercise three to five days per week is recommended to live a healthy lifestyle. But it is important that you understand when deciding on your fitness routine the adverse effects of some exercise practices can have on some areas of the body. For example, the pelvic floor, especially in women, may get damaged or weakened because of some trauma to the area,” Harrow explained.
She pointed out that if your pelvic floor muscles are weakened, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain.
“Losing or having little control over your pelvic organs can cause you to feel very embarrassed. In the gym this is often triggered by activities such as lifting heavy weights in the gym, jumping, running, and core strengthening to name a few,” Harrow underscored.
There are other exercises, however, that you may want to consider if you intend to protect or strengthen the pelvic region. Below she shares a few techniques:
On hands and knees, extend your left leg backwards and your right arm forward and then bring back to the centre. Repeat 10 times then switch leg and arm and do the same.
Diaphragm breathing exercise
Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands resting on your lower abdomen. Now exhale, expelling all your air, then slowly inhale until your lungs are full. Repeat 10 times. This will help to strengthen the entire core.
Lie on your side with knees bent and your head propped up by one arm. Raise your outer leg, hold for a few seconds, and then lower. This position engages your obliques and abs gently. Do several sets of 10 repetitions.
Modified leg raises
Modify the move by raising only one leg and keeping the head and shoulders in constant contact with the floor. Repeat 10 times with each leg and don't forget to breathe normally throughout.
Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the heels firmly on the ground, and with back straight, bend at the waist, then the knees as if you're about to sit down into a chair. Don't lean forward as you squat; rather “sit down” into it. Move up and down slowly, and do at least two sets of 10 repetitions.