A little belly that doesn’t go away, episodes of incontinence, dyspareunia, or even a feeling of weight in the lower abdomen, maybe due to a relaxation of the pelvic floor. Here’s how to strengthen these invisible muscles with dedicated exercises.
There is an invisible gymnastics, very important for women, which can help limit the most frequent hassles and discomforts after menopause: belly, incontinence, dyspareunia, or that feeling of always having a weight in the lower abdomen.
These simple toning and stretching activities aim to strengthen the pelvic floor, a set of muscles often ignored by workouts and by many women but which actually has a very important function for our body and for our well-being. Thanks to these muscle bands positioned in the abdominal cavity, in fact, the uterus, urethra, vagina, and rectum maintain an anatomically correct position and do not suffer prolapse, one of the major causes of discomfort and disorders in mature age and after childbirth.
The pelvic floor structure resembles a bridge, suspended between the sacral area of the spine (coccyx) and the pubis. This kind of “bridge” supports the organs and partly also the bone structure of the pelvis, so much so that one of the consequences of the weakening of the pelvic floor, in addition to the aforementioned prolapse, can also be back pain.
In the event that the pelvic muscles were to weaken and “sag”, all the organs supported by them would undergo a downward displacement with consequences on their physiological functions.
The complaints most felt when there is a weakening or prolapse of the pelvic floor are:
- foreign body sensation in the vagina
- recurrent urinary infections
- difficulty urinating or incontinence
- difficulty walking and standing
- protrusion of tissue from the vagina
- difficulty having sexual intercourse
Kegel exercises, the invisible bodybuilding for the pelvic floor
Contract and release: Kegel gymnastics – or pelvic floor exercises – is all there. No tools are needed and can be done anywhere, sitting or standing, in the office or at home, but above all it is absolutely discreet and practically invisible because the muscles of the perineum are internal.
The hardest thing is finding the right muscles and being able to perform voluntary contractions. To do this you can try to stop urination when you are in the bathroom: what happens? What is the area of the body that inevitably and naturally contracts to stop the flow of urine? Here. You’ve just located your pelvic floor. You should now be able to more easily control its movements.
The exercises designed by the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel consist of 5-second contractions of the pelvic muscles, interspersed with the relaxation of the same duration and repeated for at least 10 consecutive times. If you have difficulty you can start by maintaining the contraction for even just 2 seconds, if you can, you can extend the contraction time up to 8 or 10 seconds and then return to relax the pelvic floor.
Once you get a little familiar with your body and are able to quickly locate the perineum, you can also have fun doing a series of short and rapid contractions in sequence, trying to tighten the muscles as much as possible.
By contracting and relaxing the muscles and performing at least one set of 10 every day, within a couple of months the muscles of the perineum should be toned and the organs return to their proper place, regaining their functions regularly. However, it is advisable to continue exercising for at least 6 months.
Other exercises to improve the pelvic muscles
If the Kegel exercises seem too complex to you or you cannot locate the muscles and you cannot contract the pelvic floor for long enough, there are 2 other exercises that are effective for restoring the muscles of the lower abdomen.
Stretch like a cat. Get on all fours and breathe calmly, possibly “with the belly” or pushing the air towards the diaphragm. Slowly rotate your pelvis downwards as if forming a hump and keep your gaze towards the navel as you inhale through your nose. Then, exhaling, rotate your pelvis again arching your back, and raising your head as if to look at the ceiling. This exercise should be performed very slowly and repeated several times and is effective in restoring elasticity to the pelvis and stretching the pelvic muscle.
Circumstances. Another very effective exercise for pelvic floor muscle tone is the circling of the pelvis. Lie on your back and bend your knees for a comfortable position. The arms are at the sides and the palms are facing the ground. Now, inhaling with the nose, lift the pelvis off the ground by contracting the buttocks and pushing the coccyx upwards. Exhale and go back on your back. You will have to do the same thing by pushing the tailbone down, then to the right, and then to the left.
When you feel you are able to keep your pelvis off the ground without problems, you can also perform the movements continuously, as if they were a complete circle.
Pelvic floor exercises, the elixir of a long sex life
Many menopausal disorders involve the intimate sphere and relationships with the partner. This is why many women think of giving up their sex life, believing that it is no longer the time, that it is “wrong” or that it is something unnatural because it is painful. In reality, after menopause, not only can intimate life with the partner continue without problems but it can even become more intense and engaging.
It could happen, however, that the onset of vaginal itching and dryness, typical after age 50, is an obstacle to a complete and satisfying intimate life. Listen to your body and pay attention to these symptoms which can be alarm bells of the onset of AVV.
Similarly, the weakening or prolapse of the pelvic muscles can make sexual life difficult: in a study conducted on over 3,000 women, the gynecologist Kegel observed that those with well-developed and toned pelvic muscles also claimed to have a life. Satisfying intimacy, while women with weaker muscles said they were indifferent or hardly involved in sexual pleasure.
A part of the pelvic muscles is made up of the so-called “perivaginal” which is the band that also wraps the vaginal canal. This is one of the reasons why sexual pleasure is also connected to the tone of the pelvic floor: a reactive and trained internal musculature allows you to better perceive the sensations and even allows you to reach more intense and longer moments of pleasure.
Also for this reason it is very important to keep this invisible muscle band trained which, somehow, holds a little secret of femininity and happiness.
WATCH VIDEO: Pelvic floor exercises for women