Women’s Health: Strengthening The Pelvic Floor And Exercising On Your Periods (Dispelling The Myths)

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Many of us have heard the term “pelvic floor”, but it may be still an enigma about what it really is and what it does. The pelvic floor is a term used to refer to a group of muscles present at the bottom or base of your pelvis. The complete lower opening of your pelvis is muscular.

Your pelvic floor muscles are skeletal muscles, which means they carry similar properties as your hamstring, bicep, abdomen, etc. These are voluntary muscles that can contract or relax at your will. Pelvic muscles also control the flow of urination and keep us from leaking urine or faeces.

An underactive pelvic floor

If things go wrong on the pelvic floor, it can cause signs that you can not immediately relate to your muscles. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a word used to describe both overactive pelvic floor or underactive pelvic floor. The word pelvic floor dysfunction can be either underactive or overactive (Too Tight). 

Women may have poor pelvic floors, definitely because of the increased pressure in these muscles due to various causes including pregnancy and childbirth. This is particularly valid after vaginal birth and a perineal tear or episiotomy when the pelvic floor muscles are sometimes tearing.

A pelvic floor that is underactive or weak can contribute to urinary or faecal incontinence, since it can not produce adequate strength in the abdomen and the pelvis for coughing, sneezing, laughing or sometimes even getting out of a chair. A weak pelvic floor can also contribute to pelvic organ prolapse that may descend its location, which will not be able to protect the uterus or rectum.

All these things sound really alarming, but the fundamental truth is that exercise will usually avoid these effects and strengthen them. Explicitly, the strengthening of pelvic floors, along with a central core and hip rehabilitation, will enhance and relieve the symptoms significantly.

An overactive pelvic floor

An overactive pelvic floor or tightness of the pelvic floor may trigger other symptoms. Pain is the most frequent sign of an overactive pelvic floor. Think about how a muscle cramp or muscle pull would feel. The muscle tightens up or spasms in response to a trauma or overactivity, which causes pain.
The same can happen with the muscles of the pelvic floor, but the signs are not always clear. A multitude of other signs includes pelvic floor spasm, menstrual discomfort, genital soreness, painful intercourse, overactive bladder, constipation, sitting discomfort, and tailbone pain. The symptoms may cause discomfort to shoulders, lower back, sacrum, glutes, perineum or vaginal regions in the whole pelvic floor.

A tight muscle is many times inherently weak, so an overactive pelvic floor may often cause any of the above signs of fatigue. If you find out that you have an overactive pelvic floor, then the first thing you can do is to be mindful of how you handle your muscles throughout the day. Sometimes without even realizing, we put stress in the lower abdomen or the pelvic floor, which may contribute to this problem.

Stress can contribute to inflammation throughout our bodies and is among the most significant reasons leading to the tightness of the pelvic floor. The hip opening and diaphragmatic or belly breathing exercises will help lower the pain and increase mobility in the pelvic floor and is also a perfect way to relieve stress.

Let’s talk about women’s pelvic floor muscles and their possible problems

Many women (almost a quarter) – young or old, big or small – face some or the other issues with their pelvic floor muscles. That is why we decided to dive deeper into the world of the pelvic floor and the related complications, which are still quite a taboo.

What is the trouble?

You run into complications if your pelvic muscles do not function as they ought to. If your pelvic muscles weaken, you face problems like losing a little pee when you cough, or laugh to complete incontinence, sexual problems, inability to keep you tampon-in perfectly, and even pelvic prolapse

If the pelvic floor muscles are too tense, you may face issues like increase of urination, stool problems, sexual pain, pain in the abdomen, back pain or pain in the pelvis.

How does the trouble occur?

Pelvic floor issues commonly occur during pregnancy or menopause. It can easily lead to serious nerve complications that regulate the pelvic muscles while giving birth. The pelvic floor is also weakened during the menopause due to the reduction in hormones and overall ageing.

During your period, the estrogen levels decrease that weakens your pelvic floor. This suffices itself as to why many women face pelvic floor issues during their periods.

Can you exercise during your period?

“Maybe if period pain burned calories, it would be worth it.”

While working out during your period might be the last thing you would want to do, there are a heap of reasons as to why it’s a good idea. Working out enhances the blood circulation in your pelvic area, which means less menstruation pain. It also boosts your overall mood, which can help you to defy anything your cycle throws at you.

What exercises should you be doing?

Walking - If you don’t want to perform any difficult core exercises, walking is a perfect solution. Lace-up, and move out to take a stroll in your area, or a garden. Even though it’s not an intense exercise, you can still keep a record of your number of steps and calories burnt.

Pilates - Pilates is a great exercise because it targets specific areas of your body. So, you can perform pilates to suit your need during periods, for example, if you’re suffering from lower back pain during your period, you can try roll-downs to stretch the spine.

Yoga - During periods, clotting is a recurring phenomenon. You can try a few yoga poses that can help increase blood flow and circulation in your body.

Stretching - If you’re not in the mood or state to go to the gym, you can do some stretching exercises at home, or in a garden. By focusing on lengthening your muscles and taking deep breaths during stretches, can ease up any cramps in your body.

Some myths and truths about periods:

Myth 1 - It is not safe to exercise during your period.
Truth - Exercising during your periods is safe and even encouraged by experts, provided you do not overdo it.

Myth 2 - Women gain weight just before their period.
Truth - It is just water retention, which vanishes by the time your period commences.

Myth 3 - Women burn more calories while exercising during their periods.
Truth - Nope. But, women do burn calories when they exercise in their luteal phase of the cycle, just before the period.
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