Your Pelvic Floor muscles have several roles that are important for everyday life! They help to control our bowel and bladder, support these vital organs, support your back, pelvis and are also important for reproductive and sexual health.
The pelvic floor needs to be able to hold up and lift as well as relax - this relaxing phase is vital for better urinary function and also, during birth, when the pelvic floor muscles need to relax.
Post birth is when a lot of women may first start to experience changes with their pelvic floor but what’s not discussed often is that during the peri and menopause, as hormone levels drop, the pelvic floor can suddenly become weaker. This is because both the bladder and the pelvic floor hold oestrogen receptors designed to keep our muscles strong.
For some women, if our hormones drop, without effective movement or exercise, the area can suddenly become very weak. Which can may contribute to urinary incontinence - this affects at least 1 in 3 women1 , and can be a sign of the menopause. The good news is that research shows, by exercising your pelvic floor, you can reverse symptoms, enabling you to live your life to the full. Which is exactly the ethos of Always Discreet and why we want to empower women to be able to feel free to move and live life to the full, without compromise.
The Always Discreet Lift exercise could be an effective way to do this.
The key is knowing exactly how….
Know your own anatomy
The pelvic floor runs from your tailbone (Coccyx) to your pubic bone at the front and also attaches to your sit bones - think of it like a diamond shape on the inside ridge, at the bottom of your pelvis. The Pelvic floor sits above the sphincter muscles which are often associated with pelvic floor exercise. Contracting the sphincters can help you to find the deeper Pelvic floor sling. Another important factor to know is that your pelvic floor works with your breath, i.e. your diaphragm muscle. When you inhale - they both expand as your ribs flare out. As you exhale, they draw in and lift. Try to visualise this and use this breathing action when you do the Always Discreet Lift.
So, to do the Always Discreet lift, take a deep breath in, then, as you exhale…
- Contract the sphincter muscles around the anus - as if stopping going to the toilet from your back passage.
- It really helps to sit or stand tall here (avoid tucking your tail bone or flexing your spine)
- Once you’ve contracted your sphincter muscles at the back, think of going deeper, scooping up from your back passage and into the front, towards your pubic bone. Keep your spine tall.
- Now continue to lift up and up as you exhale. Think of the lift going up 5 floors.
- Can you count to 5? Don’t worry if you can’t for now - that’s your end goal.
- Now let it relax - try to feel the pelvic floor lower and take a slow breath or too before repeating again. This is important! Aim to do 5 - 10 lifts at a time.
How often do I need to do the Always lift?
The magic number is TEN! That’s building up to 10 repetitions, 10 x a day. You can do these in blocks of 3 - so 3 x 10 morning, lunchtime, and evening. Another way to do it is to think of 10 places you could do your pelvic floor lifts, e.g., when at your desk, standing at the bus stop, cleaning your teeth. Write all these down and aim to associate these places with Pelvic Floor exercise! Do this at least 5 days a week. Once you have built this up over 3 months, you will feel great improvements and can then reduce to a maintenance level of 10 x 10, 2 x week.
As a first step, if you have any bladder weakness concerns you should always consult your GP first.
1. [Excellence in Continence Care: Practical guidance for commissioners, and leaders in health and social care, NHS England, June 2018]↩