Pelvic Floor Problems in Winter – Tips and Techniques for Pelvic Floor Control and Support
Pelvic floor problems can become worse with cold winter weather. Anticipating the effect of cold weather on your pelvic floor can greatly help to maintain pelvic floor function during the winter months.
Read on to find out what you can at this time of the year to protect, support and avoid pelvic floor problems developing or worsening.
How does cold weather contribute to pelvic floor problems?
The affects of cold on your pelvic floor muscles is the same as on other skeletal muscles. Cold muscles are less reactive to signals from the nervous system, so they become less coordinated. Additionally, blood flow slows in the cold resulting in reduced muscular strength and speed. This means less effective pelvic floor function in keeping you continent, securing your pelvic organs in position and supporting your spine. As a result already existing weakness may magnify or weakness may be experienced for the first time.
What can you do avoid pelvic floor chills?
To help avoid pelvic floor problems in cold weather try to keep dry and warm all over. Ensure that your feet, legs and hips are cozy too. Avoid sitting on cold surfaces. If you do get cold or sit on something cold, perform several, quick, ordinary pelvic floor contractions to increase blood flow and warmth and in turn improve your pelvic floor function. This is similar to opening and closing your hands when they become stiff from cold.
How does having a cold affect your pelvic floor?
Every time you cough, sneeze or blow your nose your pelvic floor muscles spring into action. They lift up against the downward pressure that is created. This way – when they are strong enough – they ensure continence, protect organ positioning and provide spinal support. However, coughing, sneezing and nose blowing create significant pressure which, overtime, can fatigue your pelvic floor muscles and use up their energy reserves. At that time they become unable to function properly and pelvic floor problems including incontinence and/or prolapse can develop.
What can you do to avoid pelvic floor problems in winter?
Perform regular pelvic floor exercises to keep your pelvic floor in good shape regardless of the season!
Treat illness early and aim for quick recovery. When coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose:
- lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles before and during every cough, sneeze and every time you blow your nose;
- maintain tall, upright posture. If you feel you can achieve better control lean forward slightly while keeping your spine elongated;
- avoid blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing while sitting on the toilet; and
- if possible sit down or hold on to your perineum (between you vagina and anus) with your hand, especially if you are challenged to achieve adequate conscious pelvic floor activation.
Pelvic floor problems can be reduced and avoided in winter. Having a strong and well supported pelvic floor will provide you with reliable control and pelvic floor protection from throughout winter illness. If your pelvic floor lets you down at these times it can be a message to your pelvic floor needs some exercise and attention. Looking after your pelvic floor health so is one of the best investments you can make to ensure long term quality of life and self esteem.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathi Janssens is a wonderful advocate and promoter of pelvic floor education for women. We have the opportunity to benefit from Kathi’s expertise in the field of exercise physiology and the pelvic floor with this terrific article she has very kindly shared with us. Thank you Kathi for sharing your knowledge and helping all of us.
Kathi Janssens is an exercise therapist and women’s health educator. She founded Discreetly Fit in 2004, offering pelvic floor education for women of all ages Sydney wide. She is incredibly passionate about helping women improve or preserve their pelvic floor health by reducing lifestyle induced pelvic floor stress, keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong, encouraging proper function and generally becoming more aware of the area. Kathi offers her information with love, joy and sincerity. She is deeply grateful for the opportunity to help women improve their quality of life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway