Do you sometimes leak a small amount of urine when you sneeze or cough? If so, this is just one of the symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles. Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, painful bowel movements, fecal incontinence and more. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to rebuild these muscles. Discover some tips that can help you prioritize your pelvic floor health in the new year.
Tip 1: Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor With Targeted Exercises
Taking 10 minutes each day to perform a few pelvic floor exercises goes a long way toward strengthening those muscles.
One easy exercise is a basic leg lift. Lay on your side with your bottom leg bent at the knee and your other leg straight. Lift and lower your straight leg while squeezing the muscles in your pelvic floor. This means pulling your pelvis upward and in. Pretend you have a full bladder, and you’re trying not to urinate. Remember to breathe normally as you do these lifts. Challenge yourself to do three sets of 10-leg lifts for each leg.
Chances are you’ve heard of Kegel exercises, but you may not know what’s involved. Kegel exercises are yet another way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
First, lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, contract your pelvic muscles and hold them for five seconds, then relax them for five. Some women envision this action as similar to trying to tighten their pelvic muscles around a tampon. These contraction and release exercises are sometimes done with Kegel balls to aid the process. Using a Kegel ball can help a woman know whether she is contracting her muscles tightly enough to be effective. Contracting and releasing the muscles 10 times is enough for one session of Kegels. It’s better to break them up into two sets of 10: one in the morning and the other in the evening.
Another pelvic floor exercise requires a foam roller. This roller is sometimes called a foam noodle. First, get down on all fours like a cat: your wrists in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Place a long foam roller on the floor and run it horizontally beneath both your hands. As you inhale, slide the foam roller toward your knees while pushing your back up. As you roll it, envision your belly button moving gently inward toward your spine. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Then, exhale and move the roller back to its original position while pushing your stomach toward the floor. Try to do at least 10 of these in the morning and evening.
Tip 2: Talk to a Pelvic Floor Therapist
Seeing a pelvic floor therapist can help you in your journey as well. So, what is pelvic floor therapy, exactly?
A therapist will start out by talking with you and performing an examination to determine the condition of your pelvic muscles. Based on this information, the therapist will recommend specific exercises to improve flexibility. During a session, the therapist will guide you through those exercises to ensure you’re getting the most value from them.
In addition, a therapist will be able to come up with a plan, including a timeline and goals related to your pelvic floor health. Sometimes, having a concrete plan can keep you on track as you move through the year. Think of the therapist as a partner in your journey.
Your therapist is also there to provide encouragement. You are likely to be unfamiliar with many of these types of exercises. Consequently, it can be a little daunting to learn them. Guidance and encouragement from your therapist are going to help you feel more at ease with doing the exercises. This is going to be valuable as you begin to perform the exercises at home.
Tip 3: Focus on a Healthy Diet
Not surprisingly, a nutrient-dense diet plays a part in the health of your pelvic floor muscles.
There are plenty of reasons to drink water throughout the day, and one of them relates to pelvic floor health. Digestive issues, including constipation, can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Drinking enough water each day helps you maintain good digestion. This, in turn, contributes to stronger pelvic muscles.
Fiber supports digestive health too. It’s found in delicious fruits and vegetables like bananas, carrots, peas and apples. Eating fiber-filled foods supports your efforts to have regular bowel movements and avoid constipation.
Do you like avocados? If the answer is yes, we have some good news. Avocados are full of vitamins B-6, E, K and C. These vitamins nourish and build muscles in the body, including those in the pelvic floor. As a bonus, there are lots of creative meal recipes and snacks that involve tasty avocados
Caffeine-free herbal tea is another item to consider in your daily diet. A cup of lemongrass or peppermint tea provides hydration and has antioxidants that contribute to healthy pelvic muscles.
Tip 4: Connect With Other Women
Exercise, the advice of a therapist and good nutrition are all great ways to boost pelvic floor health. Connecting with other women who are managing pelvic floor issues is another element to factor into your journey.
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When you connect with other women, you’re able to receive and offer support. Plus, you can discuss different exercises and how to do them effectively. You may even relax and share a laugh, building some good friendships in the bargain. The most important part is you’ll see you are not alone in managing these issues.
Taking Small Steps To Improve Your Pelvic Health
Prioritizing your pelvic floor health is the first step. Then, as you begin to do the exercises and experience improvement in your muscle strength, you’re going to be inspired to keep moving forward.