Pelvic floor rehabilitation: a phase that a decade ago was almost unknown, yet today is one of the most promising and important areas of women’s health.
For some, the symptoms are new, caused by the birth of a baby, surgery or simple muscle weakness. For others, their symptoms – including bladder issues, bowel disorders, pelvic and back pain – have diminished their quality of life for years. Whether from embarrassment or misdiagnosis, pelvic floor problems too often to unidentified and untreated, with many women believing they must simply live with it.
The pelvic floor is a combination of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the bladder and other pelvic organs. Weakness or tightness in these muscles, as well as scar tissue and a variety of medical conditions, can create pain or loss of bladder or bowel control. Symptoms as diverse as back pain and urinary frequency can be successfully treated by restoring strength and balance to the pelvic floor.
Patricia A. Wallace, MD, a urogynecologist and specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Mission Hospital, spotlights the following exercises to help get your pelvic floor back in shape:
Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Inhale, engage your pelvic floor, and lift your hips. Hold for up to 10 seconds and keep breathing. Lower your hips back down and release your pelvic floor. Do 10 reps.
Wall Squat: Stand against a wall, feet hip-width apart. Inhale, engage your pelvic floor, and lower yourself into a squat as though sitting in a chair. Hold for 10 seconds. Rise back up to standing and release your pelvic floor. Do 10 reps.
Dead Bug Crunch: Lie on your back. Extend your arms straight up toward the ceiling. Inhale, engage your pelvic floor, and extend your right arm beyond your head and right leg forward. Release pelvic floor and draw arm and leg back to starting position. Repeat with left arm and leg. Do 10 reps on each side.
Happy Baby: Start by lying on your back. Grasp the inside of each foot with your arms inside your knees, leg bent with knees toward chest. Allow knees to widen open. Hold for 20-30 seconds to relax your pelvic floor and release your hips.
If you suffer from incontinence, pain or pelvic floor disorders, talk to your doctor.