Admittedly, the pelvic floor is not something we generally think of including in our workout, who even knows its exact location or what it feels like if you flex it, but strengthening it has widespread benefits.
Everything from strengthening the bladder, to preventing hemorrhoids, incontinence, intensifying orgasms and relieving hip pain can come from good pelvic floor function. It’s particularly beneficial during ageing when the organs in the lower part of the body tend to become less effective. Many older people find it difficult to control the bladder yet all a strong bladder needs are cooperation from muscles, nerves and ligaments from the pelvic floor.
In 2002 a study by German urologist Frank Sommer compared the effects of Viagra with men who had pelvic floor training. The group of men who trained the deep muscles of the pelvic floor had better results than the Viagra group.
ANATOMY OF THE PELVIS:
The pelvic floor is almost like a hammock that supports the bladder uterus and rectum. It’s about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand and consists of seven muscles. These muscles attach to the hip bones, the pubic bone and the bottom of the spine at the coccyx. Imagine it as a plate of criss-crossing muscles that form the floor of the torso. There are 3 layers – each has a specific function.
ONCE YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE PELVIC FLOOR, WAKE UP THE MUSCLES AND START PRACTICING IT BECOMES A HABIT AND SOMETHING YOU CAN DO WHILE RUNNING, WALKING, PLAYING SPORT OR EVEN GROCERY SHOPPING.
BENEFITS OF PELVIC FLOOR TRAINING:
- It is anti-ageing and keeps the lower body organs young.
- Prevents, improves and corrects hernias, hemorrhoids, incontinence, prolapse of lower body organs and other problems in this area.
- Protects men from prostate enlargement and erectile dysfunction stemming from physical causes.
- Intensifies orgasms in men and women
- Improves posture, relieves hip and lower back pain.
- Relieves the joints of the lower back, hips and legs during walking and running
- Lessens cellulite, shapes the legs, lifts the buttocks and diminishes ‘saddle bags’.
THE FIRST OR OUTER LAYER
This layer winds itself like a net around the sphincter muscles. In females it’s the ureter, vagina and anus. In males, the root of the penis, ureter and anus. In both male and female the muscles cross over in the perineum. Most women have a relatively well trained outer layer. You are using your sphincter muscles when you hold urine back midstream. This muscle layer doesn’t need specific training, on the contrary: focusing only on this layer can lead to haemorrhoids. Females can experience painful intercourse if the muscles of the vagina are trained much more than the rest of the pelvic floor.
Sit on a soft surface – an exercise ball or cushioned chair. Place one hand under the perineum and cough strongly. Where you feel the cough most strongly is the centre of the pelvic floor – the perineum.
THE SECOND OR MIDDLE LAYER
This layer stretches like a trampoline between the joints of the upper thighs and the pubic bone in a criss-cross of fibres. In strengthening this level, the legs are toned, the inner thigh muscles lift, and the upper thigh muscles become ‘suspended’. Top athletes use this level automatically.
DID YOU KNOW?
Once strengthened, the pelvic floor, rather than sit heavily in the legs, will carry the weight of the body, with shoulders that feel lighter, a head more poised and spine longer, lighter and well stretched. Legs will move easily and even the feet will feel totally different. When walking it will feel as if your butt is being lifted by invisible hands.