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The Easy-Peasy Guide To Your Pelvic Floor (And How To Look After It)

posted by Joan Palmer

Toilet

The Easy-Peasy Guide To Your Pelvic Floor (And How To Look After It)

If you’re like many of the women I chat to, you fall into one of two categories: you’re unsure exactly what the pelvic floor is and why it’s so important to you, or you’re clued up on the mechanics but left wincing at the idea of keeping the area strong! Hands up who has the best intentions to do their daily exercises but often forgets?

Whichever category you fall into, this guide is going to talk you through: what your pelvic floor muscles are, why you need to look after them, and how to do it with ease:

What is the Pelvic Floor and why is it so important?

The Pelvic Floor is a band of muscles, ligaments, tissue and nerves which support the pelvic organs such as bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina. This part of the body helps these organs to function effectively – assisting in urinate and excretion, aiding in sexual performance, and helping to stabilise connecting joints. It also helps to guide your baby’s head down the birth canal during labour. And is the muscle which helps you hold in wind when you’d rather not let it out… It’s structured a bit like an internal trampoline!

Where can I find my Pelvic Floor?

If you place your hands each side under your bottom, palm side up, and sit with your fingers underneath your sitting bones – the pelvic floor muscle spans side to side in this space.

To get an idea of the distance it spans, find your pubic bone and your coccyx – it runs from front to back.

To feel the Pelvic Floor muscles in use, stop and start the flow of a wee next time you empty your bladder. This shouldn’t be a frequent way to exercise the muscle, but it is a great way to feel it at work when you’re getting to know the muscle.

What happens to the Pelvic Floor during a woman’s life?

The Pelvic Floor is often weakened by the stress of pregnancy and childbirth, but regular exercise and attention of this area can make the damage minimal. Other reasons your pelvic floor may get weaker during your lifetime may include:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Pushing or straining to empty the bladder
  • Heavy lifting
  • Carrying too much weight
  • Hormonal changes during menopause

Avoiding these circumstances isn’t always possible. Which is why it’s so important to exercise your pelvic floor as often as possible to keep it strong throughout your life!

What are the benefits of doing Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Pelvic Floor Exercises can help you overcome a variety of pelvic floor problems. Benefits include:

  • Strengthen bladder control (removing the urgency to urinate with exercise and strenuous activity)
  • Increased sexual sensation
  • Reduce pelvic prolapse problems – helping avoid the bulging feeling and discomfort linked with mild to moderate prolapse
  • Improved bowel control and reduction in chronic constipation and likelihood of rectal prolapse

 

How do you do Pelvic Floor Exercises?

It’s true that pelvic floor exercises require paying attention to an intimate part of your body, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be at all embarrassing, and you don’t need to remove any items of clothing! All you need to do is focus on squeezing these important internal muscles and holding them for several seconds to help strengthen them. This can be done discreetly, anywhere and anytime.

To complete a Pelvic Floor exercise (otherwise known as a ‘Kegel’) all you need to do is:

  • Keep breathing in and out as you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles – pull them up and in as if holding in a wee.  Try to ensure you are activating the whole pelvic floor from back to front.
  • Hold for 4-5 seconds to begin with, breathing in and out as normal. With practice, extend the hold to 10-15 seconds but keep breathing.
  • If you’re tightening your abdomen muscles or buttocks – you’re trying too hard. Relax and focus on your pelvic floor only.

Looking for friendly, professional support on keeping your body fit and strong without having to take out a gym membership? Mumsfit classes are specifically tailored for women who have are looking for a new lease of health, energy, and fitness in a fun atmosphere – whether you’re stuck in the post-partum haze or approaching menopause. E mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk to find out more.

Lentil and Lemon Soup

posted by Joan Palmer

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Taken from the Sunday Times 14th Jan 2018

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp extra – virgin oil
  • 1 White onion finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 200g green lentils, rinsed well under cold running water
  • 1 ¼ litres of veg stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 85g spinach, tough stalks removed
  • Extra virgin oil to finish
  • 100g natural yogurt to finish
  • Method

    Heat the olive oil in a large pan and set over low heat.  Add the onion and celery with a pinch of salt and cook covered with lid on for 15 minutes, until they are soft but without colour.

    Add garlic and turmeric and cook for another few minutes.  Now add lentils and stir to coat them in the onion mixture.  Add the stock and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 mins until they are soft and tender.  While warm, season the lentils with salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

    Add the spinach and blitz to a rough texture.  Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and finish with the olive oil and a spoonful of yogurt.

    Running Can Be Fun: How to Start Running Safely This New Year

    posted by Joan Palmer

    running women

    Many people start the year with good intentions: intentions to make a change and commit to really getting fit this time. Unfortunately, everyday life has the knack of derailing good intentions like getting fit - especially when you’re trying to raise a family as well as look after yourself.

    Thankfully, enjoyment is a brilliant motivator. When you discover that running can be fun and safe (ie, you’re not going to do yourself damage on your first session!) then the likelihood you’ll want to keep going dramatically increases. Here’s how to make keeping fit so enjoyable it will become the highlight of your week:

    Take baby steps
    If your fitness levels are currently low, it’s crucial you go gently on yourself and build your fitness before you try to undertake a 10k jog! When you feel capable of upping your pace, it is always sensible to start gradually and build up the length and speed of your runs each session.

    If you push yourself too hard to start with, not only do you run the risk of injury, but you increase the likelihood of frustration and not wanting to try again. (There go those good intentions…)

    Warm up
    Start every run with a gentle warm-up lasting at least 5 minutes. The sort of things you might try, include: power walking, side steps, marching on the spot, knee lifts, climbing the stairs and gentle stretches.

    Make it a game
    Remember how important the fun element is? Try adding running games into your workout rather than setting out on a typical long jog. At Mumsfit, we use games which specifically work to improve your speed and form – while being straightforward and enjoyable!

    Be aware of your body
    Did you know there is a way to run ‘correctly’? To make your run more enjoyable and efficient, pay attention to your body position and relax. You want to:

    • Avoid hunching your shoulders -  this restricts the oxygen getting to your muscles.
    • Keep your arms at 90 degrees – they will then help propel you forward as they swing.
    • Relax your hands - as tight hands can lead to back and shoulder tension.
    • Keep your knees down – your knees should be lifting forward as opposed to upwards.
    • Make your hips stable, and forward – no swinging them from side to side! This reduces chance of low back or hip pain.

    Run with support
    If you really want to commit to getting fit, accountability is key. Whether you choose a close friend to chat fitness goals with or opt for professional fitness support – having someone else take your fitness seriously will increase your chances of keeping ‘at it’ even when sleep deprivation would rather have it otherwise. You’ll find encouragement goes a long way when you first start out. And what a bonus if you can keep fit and have a laugh with friends!

    Stretch to finish
    A lot of people know the importance of ‘warming up’ but aren’t aware that a ‘cool down’ period is also needed to reduce chance of post-run discomfort or injury. The aim is to lower your heart rate and get your breathing back to normal and help your muscles maintain healthy function. It’s highly recommended you finish each running session with some gentle walking and stretches – and plenty of water.

    Are you ready to start running and get fit?  

    The new Mumsfit Running Club is the perfect place to get the support you need and safely increase your overall fitness – while having fun and meeting other like-minded women. These one-hour sessions will include a simple warm-up, gentle stretching, running games and strengthening for longer runs. Each session is specifically directed to suit the group, so all abilities are welcome and tailored for.

    Find out more about our friendly running sessions now –contact Joan on 07957 308968 or e mail joan@mumsfit.co.uk this class is a Buggy free and dog free zone!

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