What do Zumba, aerobics, trampolining and tennis all have in common?
They all require a certain amount of jumping. Not just jumping up and down with your legs together, in a controlled manner, but launching yourself, legs akimbo and hoping for the best.
Whilst this might have sounded like fun when you were twelve or even before you popped little Lola out of your fandango, if the thought of spread eagled exertion fills you with fear, you are not alone.
A am -of course – referring to that pesky pelvic floor. It might just about hold things together when you sneeze or run but the spontaneous jiggling or jumping in some exercise classes or sports can prove a slightly damp hop too far for some women. And, quite frankly, can put you off.
Now I’m all about getting you moving. And not just you, but your buddies, your grannies and your great grannies too. Your body loves to move about in lots of different directions (in the biz. we call this multi-planar movement) so Zumba, aerobics and multi-directional sports are really good for you.
Here is my plan for strengthening your lady bits so you can enter your next local Zumba-thon without fear:
STAGE ONE: Identify your pelvic floor muscles.
This doesn’t mean do a quick squeeze, this is about getting to know your pelvic floor muscles. A common misconception is that they are just on the outside, controlling your vagina, urethra (wee hole) and anus. However, they go way deeper than this and according to Blandine Calais-Germain, author of The Female Pelvis, it is the deeper pelvic floor muscles, inside your pelvis that are often the cause of prolapse.
As you engage your pelvic floor muscles, imagine the intensity comes from behind your perineum, forwards, as if you were drawing everything up from your tailbone to your vagina.
If you’re not confident that you can engage your pelvic floor take a look at these posts:
When you perform the exercises (below) focus on holding the middle layer of your pelvic floor muscles, as if you were trying to hold your bladder, uterus and rectum in position.
STAGE TWO: Hold-Wave-Quick-Relax-Fatigue
There are five key elements of pelvic floor conditioning:
- Start by performing controlled holds of your pelvic floor muscles. Keep a note of how long you can hold before you start to fatigue and each time you train, try to beat your time.
- Progress to slow wave like movements, where you slowly squeeze up and then release in as controlled a manner as you squeezed. Again, keep a note of how many you can do before tiring and progress with every training session.
- Then comes the sprint finish. Quick, strong squeezes, all the way up and all the way down. Make these intense and perform until you lose intensity.
- Always relax completely between each contraction (some pelvic floor or even back issues are caused by pelvic floor muscles that are too tight at the top).
- Always perform your pelvic floor exercises to the point of fatigue, just like you would with any resistance training.
STAGE THREE: Legs akimbo
Once you’ve mastered the exercises standing or seated, challenge yourself by standing with your legs wide. It makes the exercises much harder but will prepare you for those wild and crazy Zumba thrusts!