Day 69 seems as good a day as any to mention those little muscles of mystery – the pelvic floor. Not the first thing you think of when someone mentions exercise but a pretty vital little group. The pelvic floor is often mentioned when you attend an exercise class over the age of 30. “Hold in that pelvic floor” or “pull in your pelvic floor ladies” are common phrases which fly around the room during a workout.
For those who are still unaware of their pelvic floor, it is the group of muscles which keep the pelvic organs in place – those being the bladder and bowel (and uterus in women). Thanks Google for confirming that. You don’t need to do anything very exciting to find them – I was told to imagine that I was urinating and I wanted to stop the flow of urine. The muscles you would use to do that are your pelvic floor – but this is the important bit, don’t actually do that! When you are on the loo just focus on going to the loo; it’s not the time to exercise.
It seems that these exercises are still somewhat taboo in discussions. I’ve heard women mutter the phrase pelvic floor in conversation or whisper the words as if they are dirty. They’re not. They’re just muscles. A friend of mine was incontinent for 2 weeks after she gave birth. 2 weeks. 2 weeks with no awareness of whether she was going to the toilet or not – just what you need when you are also managing the emotions and practicalities of a newborn baby coming into your world. She worked her pelvic floor with a focus and determination I’ve never seen before and got her muscles back in shape whilst I was still crossing my legs and hoping for the best a good few months later.
Other women I know have reported similar experiences, or long term bladder control trouble. For the last few weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks after giving birth, I couldn’t sneeze without needing a change of underwear. Too much information? It shouldn’t be. Too awkward for you to read? It shouldn’t be. Embarrassed? You shouldn’t be.
No one ever gets embarrassed about having a dodgy calf muscle or feels awkward that their bicep isn’t working at full throttle. We all have a pelvic floor and we can all take the time to look after it and we really should. If for no other reason than it makes far too much washing if it’s not in good nick. And the best news on this front – there is an app! Of course. I downloaded it after I gave birth the second time and I spent 6 weeks clocking up over 3 hours worth of pelvic floor exercise time just focusing on those little muscles and getting them back in shape. I know I spent that long because the app gave me daily updates and reminders. Now that’s technology at its best.
As a special treat I’ve even done a set of pelvic floor exercises whilst writing this. Go for it – make yourself a cup of tea, sit down in a comfy chair and just check in with those little guys. They’ll thank you as you get older if you do.