This tutorial will give you tips to take care of your pelvic floor in your everyday life.
The #1 thing to understand is that anything that increases your intra-abdominal pressure is harmful.
This includes straining in toilets, being overweight, coughing too much or too hard and abs crunches.
All of these things build up and weaken your pelvic floor, potentially leading to urine leaks or prolapse. Here are four good habits that can help you maintain your pelvic floor health.
1. Eat and drink wisely
What you eat and drink can make a difference to your pelvic floor:
- Don't drink too much (no more than 2 liters total a day). If you have leakage in the early morning or at night, you may want to limit your intake of fluids several hours before bedtime.
- But drink enough water and eat enough fiber to keep constipation at bay.
- Reduce caffeine and other drinks that irritate the bladder.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. In overweight women, losing even a small amount of weight (less than 10% of total body weight) can decrease urine leakage.
2. Choose your physical activity carefully to maintain a healthy pelvis
Here is a list of sports that you should be careful about when you have an ongoing pelvic floor disorder:
- Long-distance running or sprint running
- Classic abs exercises, like traditional sit-ups, curls, and crunches
More generally, any physical activity that generates strong impacts, or medium impacts over a long duration, or increases the intra-abdominal pressure should be approached with caution.
Abs exercises and pelvic floor health
Abdominal crunches make you bear down on the pelvic floor, putting you at risk of spraining pelvic organ ligaments and, ultimately, suffering from prolapse. It's much better to strengthen your core muscles with transverse abdominal stabilizing exercises (like the plank), hypopressive abs, or Pilates.
Besides, stretching the backs of the legs to free up the pelvis and doing regular squats to strengthen the glutes are quite beneficial to your pelvic floor.
Finally, when you do need to lift something, like picking up your children or shopping bags, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.
3. Try to avoid coughing
If you smoke, you put yourself at risk of frequent intra-abdominal pressure increase because of coughing.
For the same reasons, try your best to save yourself from the coughs associated with respiratory tract infections if you have a weak pelvic floor.
4. Put your feet up when on the toilets
Adopt a healthy toilet posture and prevent constipation by letting gravity do most of the work instead of straining.