Have you pushed another human out of your body lately? Do you ever plan to? Even if you don’t ever plan on reproducing, you might want to spare a thought for your pelvic floor.
Carrying humans around and expecting them to exit via a hole smaller than seems appropriate is not the only reason our pelvic floor muscles weaken. As we age we also lose strength in our pelvic floor and vaginal muscles naturally. And this is because we just don’t think about them! Imagine what your glutes would look like if you never did a squat? Or how you’d slouch if you never worked on your postural muscles? The same can be said for your muscles down low. And, just like having a nicely toned back can benefit your life greatly, so too can strengthening your pelvic floor. How does a better sex life sound? Or dramatically reducing the possibility of you ever wetting your pants in public? Yeah, the whole subject is surrounded by an aura of hilarity, but it does need to be taken a little more seriously! Unless the word ‘prolapse’ doesn’t send shivers down your spine like it does mine. Ugh.
The good news is studies have found that there doesn’t have to be any loss in strength and toning, even after childbirth, as long as you work your pelvic floor muscles. It gets better, as toning them is super easy. So let’s just suck it up (get it, ‘suck it up’… Okay I’ll stop) and go there!
How to tone the muscles that matter
First up, get comfortable. Now imagine that you need to use the bathroom and can’t cross your legs or shift your weight around to help you. Contract the muscles around your base, but don’t squeeze your glutes or thighs. Can you feel a lift? It might be microscopic to start with, just like the first time you exercise any muscle group.
For a more detailed breakdown of the movement, check out this video.
Once you know the feeling you are looking for, try a set – squeeze and hold while you count to 10 seconds. You may feel your muscles start to fade, the contraction lag, and that’s OK, muscular fatigue means you’re increasing your strength. Release and try another 10 counts. And again. Aim for five holds to start, and gradually increase this number, and the length of the hold, every day. Science says you should notice a big difference within 12 weeks.
It’s easy to forget to do this – so write yourself a coded message on your bathroom mirror and do them while you’re brushing your teeth, or as you’re driving to work.
Better yet, if you’re a new mom give one of our post-pregnancy workouts a go – each short workout features a focus on pelvic floor strengthening, so you won’t have to remember to do it on your own.
Visit www.lesmills.com/post-pregnancy-exercise and you’ll find all you need to know about looking after your body post birth – there’s free at-home workout videos, nutrition plans, helpful tips and more.
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Diana Archer Mills has a love of health and fitness running through her blood. She was just 12 when she started working in the gym owned by her parents (Phillip and Jackie Mills). Now, as Les Mills Creative Director she is behind the music and moves that feature in some of your favorite workouts. But that’s certainly not Diana’s most important role. Diana is a mom of four – so it’s fair to say she knows a fair bit about pregnancy, parenting and how to juggle a busy young family with a passion for health and fitness.