Physical exercise is essential to stay healthy and fit both before and after pregnancy, as well as being a fairly effective way to recover posture after childbirth, but also to prevent some frequent dysfunctions in women such as urinary incontinence. The pelvic floor must be well taken care of so that urinary incontinence does not occur.
What is the pelvic floor? The importance of your care
The pelvic floor is a set of internal muscles and antigravity ligaments found at the base of the pelvis. These are included within the core system, and they are the deep muscles that form the walls that enclose our trunk. These are the abdomen, diaphragm, obliques, lumbar musculature, and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor has several functions: among them, to stabilize the hip. All this set of muscles and ligaments close the abdominal cavity as a “suspension bridge” that serves to:
- contain the pelvic organs in place and that these work properly. They are the bladder, the uterus, the vagina, and the rectum.
- give stability to the spine and pelvis.
Urinary incontinence is undoubtedly a current problem of great relevance today because it leads to involuntary loss of urine due to an alteration in the internal pressure of the bladder. In addition, some factors such as pregnancy and age cause a great loss of elasticity and tension in the pelvic floor causing both the urethra and the bladder to fall and its incontinence mechanisms are only effective at rest.
Pregnant women are usually prone to this dysfunction, although depending on the woman, it will be more or less. In fact, urinary incontinence after childbirth affects approximately thirty percent of them. For many gynecologists, therefore, pelvic floor gymnastics is a preventive measure to deal with these problems and, currently, although there are different treatments to solve it, no doubt, bladder training is the chosen one. The methodology based on Kegel exercises is today one of the most practiced.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises, which is a type of gymnastics that can be developed in different modalities by contracting and relaxing the pubococcygeal muscle (or PC):
- Slow: contract the muscle while counting up to five breathing relaxed. Then you have to relax the muscle for five more seconds while maintaining a calm breath. It is advisable to perform a daily series of this exercise.
- Fast: the muscles should be contracted and relaxed as quickly as possible until at least two or three minutes have elapsed. In the beginning, the idea is to start with ten repetitions of this exercise about four times a day, and gradually increase the series until you reach fifty daily repetitions.
- The wave: some pelvic floor muscles are arranged in the form of eight with three rings: one that is located around the urethra, another around the vagina and the last around the anus. The wave consists of contracting each of these muscles progressively, from front to back to relax them later in the opposite direction, from back to front. This exercise, in addition, should be performed as many times as possible in order to achieve maximum control of the pelvic muscles.
To activate the pelvic floor there are different exercises, called Kegel exercises, which are quite easy to do. In the first one, the woman will start by placing her face up and going to relax the pelvic floor muscles while taking the air. When the air is thrown the ribs are closed and that internal musculature is voluntarily activated in an action very similar to that of cutting the urine.
Another of Kegel’s exercises is known as “the bridge.” This posture simply consists of lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. In this exercise, what is going to be done is to hold a ball with strength at the knees, and the air is going to be taken while the hips are rising, voluntarily tightening the pelvic floor, and while one is going down, release the air and relax.
Benefits of practicing Kegel exercises
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy will affect the level of hip stabilizer, prevent urinary incontinence and other gynecological disorders. In addition, exercises like these are what allow women to keep this muscle in good condition and also help strengthen the muscles under the uterus, bladder, and large intestine.
Finally, it must also be taken into account that urine leakage or intestinal control can also be accentuated as you get older, gain weight, after pregnancy or childbirth, or after gynecological surgery. Luckily, Kegel exercises can be done at any time as long as one is lying down or sitting.
And you? Haven’t you practiced them yet?