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Health Care, Down There by Kim Vopni

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Okay ladies, we've come a long way compared to our mother's generation, and even further from our grandmother's when it comes to talking openly and honestly about women's health issues. From breasts and bras, to period cramps and Kegels, at times we think we're all experts!  But how much do we really know about our health "down there"?  Well, it's time we learn a little bit more about our Pelvic Floor (AKA "down there") especially before (and after) we have kids, and find out what preventative measures we can take now to ward off future medical issues as we age.

So what exactly is the Pelvic Floor? The Pelvic Floor is a group of muscles that runs from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone in the back.  These muscles support our internal organs, help us hold in our, ahem, waste, and also helps stabilize our spine and pelvis. Generally the first time we think about out pelvic floor is after we have given birth and things just aren't quite the same down there.  While prevention is ideal, restoring strength and function is still possible after kids and you can get your pelvic floor in tip top shape! 

 

Some of us may be doing Kegels but there are other options out there for those who want the ultimate in "down there" care. Using the revolutionary EPI-NO® increases the effectiveness of the Kegel exercise and targets the exact muscles you need to train to ensure optimal Pelvic health.  It also has a biofeedback gauge that allows you to connect with your nether regions The EPI-NO® was developed in Europe by a team of gynecologists, urogenital physiotherapists, midwives and pregnant women who together, created this non-surgical, drug-free solution to prevent tearing during childbirth and/or treat post partum incontinence.  During pregnancy, it is used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and gently stretch the perineum (part of the pelvic floor) in the final weeks before birth, reducing the risk of tearing and/or an episiotomy by 33%.

 

In addition to the EPI-NO®, here are a few other exercises you can do whether you are a mother, a grandmother or a mom-to-be.

 

1. Pelvic Floor Contractions with Ball Squeeze

Find a small 6-8 inch diameter ball, yoga block, folded towel or toss cushion and have it next to your mat

Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent

Find neutral spine (ensure you are not tilting your pelvis too far forward or back - there should be a small space between your low back and the floor, enough to place your fingers)

Place your ball, block, towel or cushion between your knees

Draw air in through your nose and expand your rib cage and belly

As you exhale contract your pelvic floor - imagine stopping the flow of urine and preventing the release of gas

Visualize bringing your pelvic floor muscles closer together and then lifting them up into your abdominal cavity

Now activate your inner thighs (adductor muscles) by squeezing your ball, block, towel or cushion and hold your pelvic floor and inner thigh contraction for a count of 5 while continuing to breathe

Relax for a count of 10 to ensure a complete release of the pelvic floor contraction

If you can't sustain the pelvic floor contraction for 5 counts, hold for as long as you can and then relax for 10

If you can sustain the pelvic floor contraction for 5, gradually increase to 8 and then 10 counts

Do 10, 5 second holds

 

2. Bridging with Ball Squeeze

Find a small 6-8 inch diameter ball, yoga block, folded towel or toss cushion and have it next to your mat

Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent

Find neutral spine (ensure you are not tilting your pelvis too far forward or back - there should be a small space between your low back and the floor, enough to place your fingers)

Place your ball, block, towel or cushion between your knees

Draw air in through your nose and expand your rib cage and belly

As you exhale contract your pelvic floor - imagine stopping the flow of urine and preventing the release of gas

Visualize bringing your pelvic floor muscles closer together and then lifting them up into your abdominal cavity

Now slowly press your low back into the mat and then lift your hips up toward the ceiling as you continue to sustain your pelvic floor and inner thigh contraction

Only go as high as you can without losing the pelvic floor contraction

Hold for a count of 2 and then gently roll back down one vertebrae at a time and return to neutral spine

Relax for a count of 10 to ensure a complete release of the pelvic floor contraction

Do 10, 2 second holds

 

3. Clams

From your back lying position, roll over on to your left side resting your left ear on your upper arm or bending your elbow and placing your head in your hand

Bend your knees so that the heels are in line with the base of the spine

Keep hips, knees and ankles ‘stacked' (left knee on top of right knee, left ankle on top of right ankle etc.)

Place your right hand on the floor in front of you

Draw air in through your nose and expand your rib cage and belly

As you exhale press your ankles together while you lift the left knee

Ensure you do not roll backwards

Lower your knee down as your draw air in through your nose

Repeat 10 times on each side

 

4. Squats

Stand with feet slightly wider than pelvis width apart

Toes are pointing forward

Spine is in neutral (gentle curve in your low back, tailbone is not tucked under)

Initiate the squat by bending at the hips and sticking your bum back toward the wall behind you

Keeping your spine long, sink down as low as you can without losing neutral spine (best to do this in front of a mirror so you can see yourself)

Hold the squat while doing 10 pelvic floor contractions - contract, hold for 1 count, release

Perform the squat 3 times a day

 

If you are pregnant or planning to be, these exercises and the EPI-NO® will help you prepare your Pelvic Floor for pregnancy and delivery.  Whether you are a new mom or had your children years ago, they will help improve the strength of your pelvic floor and eliminate the symptoms of incontinence while keeping your organs where they should be! Oh, and an added bonus of keeping your Pelvic Floor strong and healthy - BETTER SEX!!!  So whether you are preparing for or recovering from pregnancy and childbirth, take control of your pelvic floor wellness today.

 

 

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About Kim Vopni:

Kim holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario and a Post Graduate Diploma in Health and Fitness from Simon Fraser University. She began her fitness career in 1996, leading classes and clients in both one on one and group sessions. In 2004, after the birth of her first son, she became a distributor of the EPI-NO and her company EPI-NO Canada was born.  It has evolved into a women's wellness company with a special emphasis on helping prenatal and postpartum moms prepare for and recover from pregnancy and childbirth.  Kim is a Can-Fit-Pro Certified Personal Trainer, a certified Pre/Post Natal Fitness Consultant and is qualified in the Tupler Technique for Diastasis Recti rehab.   

 

For further information on Pelvic Floor wellness and the EPI-NO® visit http://www.pelvicfloorwellness.com/