As January starts and you wake up out of your turkey and chocolate-induced haze, your thoughts are probably turning to how you’re going to work off all the after-effects of the festive season. If you have a weak or prolapsed pelvic floor, you may have been advised to stay away from the gym and only do mild exercise – this can put a lot of women off exercising at all out of fear.
At Kegel8 we don’t want you to miss out on the many benefits that exercise has on your body and mind! We’ve put together this guide on how to tone your body and your pelvic floor muscles in a way that’s safe and fun.
The Difference Between High and Low Impact Cardio
The reason that exercise is seen as risky for those who have pelvic floor issues is that ‘high impact’ movements such a jumping put a lot of strain on your muscles due to the impact when you hit the ground. Unfortunately this means that, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to rule out activities like running, basketball and trampolining, or at least be very careful and take things slowly. It is really important to avoid ab-focused exercises like sit-ups and crunches as these can cause a lot of strain and lead to prolapse. But don’t despair! Plenty of sports and activities are low impact – perhaps you’ll discover a new hobby or two?
Get On Your Bike and Ride
Cycling is the classic low impact exercise and is a great way to experience the outdoors while you burn calories. If you’re back at work for the New Year, check if your employer offers a Cycle to Work scheme to help you buy a bike or safety accessories – swapping your car for a bike on your daily commute is a fantastic way to fit exercise into your daily routine. To consider your pelvic floor, make sure that you have a comfortable seat and take care when going up hills as this can strain your core and pelvic floor.
As an alternative to outdoor running, try slowing things down with walking, hiking or Nordic walking; a newly popular form of exercise that uses poles and burns 20% more calories. The key to whether what you’re doing is low impact or not is whether at least one foot is on the ground at all times. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, starting with a gentle walk a few times a week is the ideal way to get back into fitness and build up your strength.
Staying Safe at the Gym
If you’re not outdoorsy or just don’t fancy going out into the winter weather, the cardio machines at the gym are a great way to get some exercise while controlling exactly how intense it gets. The exercise bike and elliptical will both give you a great low impact workout – the bonus of using machines is that you can specify exactly how fast you want to go and be more conscious of over-exerting yourself. It’s best to avoid machines like the rowing machine and leg press as these involve a lot of strain on your abdominal muscles.
Another great low impact cardio activity is swimming or water aerobics; these can really transform your body as they work all of your muscle groups at once. The support that being in water gives you will mean you can burn lots of calories while staying low impact.
If your New Year’s resolution was to achieve a six pack, pilates and yoga are very popular low impact exercises that will help you do just that. However, as with any abdominal-heavy exercise, you need to avoid or modify poses that put undue strain on your core. For example poses where all your weight is on your hands and feet (like the plank) can be modified by getting onto your hands and knees instead to spread your weight more evenly.
The Truth About Weight Lifting and Your Pelvic Floor
Lifting weights is becoming increasingly popular, as more and more women realise that the idea that lifting more than a couple of kilos will make you ‘bulky’ is nonsense. If you want to start weight training in the New Year and build up your muscles without damaging the ones in your pelvic floor, we’ve got some handy tips for you!
Squats and dead lifts are top of the list of exercises that are a big no-no for your pelvic floor muscles as they put so much strain on your core that they can lead to prolapse, particularly if you are doing them with very heavy weights! This can feel discouraging as these moves are such a major part of weightlifting. However, it’s possible to swap them for modified moves like wall squats or lunges that balance out the load more evenly. Try asking the personal trainers at your gym for ideas on modifiers as they’ll be able to show you the correct technique. With any new exercise programme, the key is to go slowly and listen to what your body is telling you!
Get Back On Track with Your Kegels with Kegel8
Perhaps you’re new to Kegel8, having decided to tackle your pelvic floor symptoms once and for all as part of your New Years Resolution? Or maybe like many women you’ve started a kegel routine before with the best of intentions and never finished it?
Keeping up with pelvic floor exercises can be a lot like a gym membership – things start out great and you do them every day, but after a few weeks life just gets in the way and you’re back to your old habits. Using a Kegel8 pelvic toner makes it so much easier to strengthen your pelvic muscles as it acts as your very own personal trainer!
The pre-set programmes in every Kegel8 device will guide you through exactly what you need to do and when. Many women get frustrated with kegels and give up, as they are unsure of whether they’re working the right muscles in the right way. Our toners do the work for you via gentle electrical stimulation – much like an ab toning belt or a vibrating plate would in the gym. This takes all the guesswork out of kegels and assures you that you’re doing them correctly!
One of the most important things in keeping up with any kind of exercise is being able to see your progress. A huge trend in fitness at the moment is for exercise trackers that give you statistics on how hard you’ve worked.
The Kegel8 Biofeedback Pelvic Trainer gives you details of exactly how hard you’re squeezing and whether you’re using the right muscles. Keep track of your Squeeze Score to see the progress you’re making. Such a fantastic way to stay motivated! The confidence you’ll gain from having control over your pelvic floor again will transform your life and make 2016 your best year yet!