Ladies…Mama’s, I want to talk to you about something very near and dear to my heart. Actually it’s more near to my belly button but that just doesn’t sound the same. Your Pelvic Floor! Otherwise known as your kegels, your pee pinchers, or your love muscles. You have them, I have them, and your baby(s) destroyed them. I’m sure many of you are thinking that your “floor” is fine and you’ve recovered fully post baby, sadly you are probably wrong. I only say that because I know from experience that these muscles are often forgotten in the post-partum workout. So as your resident Pilates instructor I’d like to educate you a little about firming up your “floor”.
First, let’s talk about form:
The pelvic floor is a term used to refer to the tissues that connect the pubic bone in the front of the pelvis to the coccyx in the back. These muscles are under our voluntary control and WILL respond to exercise just as any other muscle would.
Second, let’s talk about function:
- Supportive: Creates a hammock of sorts to support our internal organs.
- Sphincteric: That just means that they can contract and release to help you hold things in and help push it out.
- Sexual: Provide stimuli to enhance sexual enjoyment.
Third, let’s talk about firming them up:
I failed to fully grasp the value of this muscle group until after I had my first son. As a first time mom I had dutifully done my “kegel” exercises so that when labor day came I would be in tip-top shape for the task at hand. Even with all that nothing could have prepared me for the pushing stage. Pushing moves your hip joints and pelvis around to make room for the baby and giving birth to a 7 pound baby was no easy feat! In the weeks following the birth nothing felt the same and things certainly didn’t feel like they were in the right place.
In Pilates, the foundation of all our exercises is the pelvic floor and as an instructor who had trained these muscles for 7 years I took them for granted and assumed that they would somehow magically recondition themselves. Let me tell you something, they don’t! You have to work them out just as you would any other muscle group. And a word of encouragement, they WILL respond to exercise. Below are a few of my favorites to firm up your floor!
1. Elevator Doors and Floors:
- Squeeze together your kegel muscles (the ones you use to cut off the flow of urine). Think of squeezing them together and tight, not up.
- Now with the “doors closed”, slowly pull the internal muscles of the vaginal canal in and up toward your belly button. Take a moment to stop at each floor, counting as you go. Repeat back down the elevator. See how many floors you can get up to.
2. Squeeze ‘Ems:
- Squeeze and release the kegels 10 times, holding each for 1 count
- As you get stronger, hold for 2 counts and rest for 2. Progress on to hold for 3, rest for 3, and so on.
For all you pregnant mama’s out there, start toning those muscles now. Because even though the pushing stage can rock your pelvic floor world you will be thankful that you know how to contract and release those muscles when it counts. Plus your road to recovery will have a foundation to build upon.
For all you post pregnancy mama’s, start doing them now. Right now! These are the only exercises safe enough for you to start doing immediately after birth. Start small but take heart, they will get stronger quickly. And before you know it you’ll be able to blow your nose, cough, or laugh without wetting yourself. And other things will get better as well (refer back to point #3 under “function”:).
When should you do them? While pushing a stroller, or doing the dishes, or folding laundry, or sitting at a stop light. And of course while reading the invaluable BVTMB!
Let me know if you’ve done your kegels today and where.