Preventing Pelvic Collapse By Building Muscle
While waiting for my doctor to give me the OK for becoming more active, I’m doing a lot of research on any changes to my workout and diet routines following a hysterectomy. I’m officially in menopause now. That means muscle and bone loss are two key challenges heading into my golden years.
Well lo and behold I’ve discovered that I’m at risk for a Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Pelvic organs – bladder, uterus, vagina, small bowel and rectum – are linked together by muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that also attaches them to the pelvic bones. A prolapse happens when these organs start drooping or dropping out of position. Yikes!
Thanks to my hysterectomy, this support structure is weakened. In other words, there’s a lot more room down there and things can start shifting too much.
That’s where the pelvic floor muscles come in. For women, these muscles help to hold the pelvic organs in place and prevent slippage.
If I don’t start building up my pelvic floor muscles, these organs can start collapsing into the vagina.
Enter Kegel Exercises
Turns out there is an exercise I can do anywhere – sitting in a meeting, talking on the phone, checking email, watching a movie – without anyone knowing. It’s called Kegel exercises. Now I’ve heard of Kegels, but never paid any attention to them.
Well I’m an expert now and they are simple to do. How simple are they?
- Find the muscles you use to stop urinating
- Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds; relax for 3 seconds
Yeah, that’s it.
My abs and thigh muscles stay relaxed during Kegels, and breathing is normal (no holding my breath).
Like any new exercise routine, slow and consistency is important. Each week I’ll add 1 second to the routine. The goal is to work up towards a 10-second hold.
My plan is to do 3 sets of 15 reps every morning. Unlike traditional muscle workouts, Kegels can be done daily and it can take 3-4 months to notice improvements in strength. Also the routine is important in my recovery following radiation treatment.
Tomorrow is my 6 week post-surgery exam. Fingers crossed that I’ll get the go ahead to start doing a little more, including Kegels.
Note: Oh, Kegels are not just for women. Men can benefit from them too.