Pelvic floor health ? strengthening your core
The pelvic floor makes up a significant piece of your body?s core, the essence of your very being. The foundation for all movement, balance, stability and flexibility begins in the pelvis. And in times of change, such as during pregnancy, childbirth, perimenopause and menopause, we can support our bodies ? literally and figuratively ? by creating strength in our cores.
You might not know that seven out of ten women have disorders of the pelvic floor. It?s not surprising, given that the pelvic floor supports the bones in the spine; structures the abdominal cavity ? muscles and organs included; controls the passage of urine and stool; facilitates the childbirth process; and contributes to a woman?s sexual pleasure and ability to reach orgasm. What is surprising for many of us, however, is that problems with the above are avoidable.
As a midwife, I have seen what strength and flexibility in the pelvic floor can do for women. Yet many of us think our only option for these muscles is to practice Kegel exercises. Dr. Arnold Kegel discovered in the 1940?s that you can actually strengthen the vaginal muscles by ? get this ? resistance strength training. These squeeze-and-hold vaginal exercises known as Kegels were specifically designed to target pelvic floor strengthening.
Kegel?s research has certainly helped lots of women over the years, but we?ve learned so much more since then! So whether you?re already having pelvic floor issues or want to avoid problems down the road, there?s a lot you can do to strengthen those elusive vaginal muscles, and many compelling reasons why you should.
Tips for Personal Program Success
Timing is everything. Take your first packet of nutrients with your breakfast, when your body can best metabolize the rich ingredients and benefit from the energizing boost they provide.
Let?s explore the pelvic floor and why it?s so important.
What is the pelvic floor?
It may be helpful to visualize your pelvic floor as a hammock that supports all your lower organs. The flexibility and strength of this hammock come from a set of muscles and ligaments interwoven into the bowl-like pelvic walls, closing in at the base to form the pelvic and urogenital diaphragms. Entirely encasing the pelvic floor is a thin wall of fascia, or connective tissue, that covers, connects, and further supports the muscles and organs of the pelvic region.
Here is a simplified drawing of the pelvic floor. This part of our bodies is amazingly complex, and most anatomy texts devote a dozen or more drawings to its explication ? it?s miraculous how all the elements work together to serve their multiple functions. It?s also the case that the pelvic floor varies from woman to woman, so no two are exactly alike!
Written by Carrie Levine, CNM, MSN