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Pelvic Floor 101

If I were to ask a room full of people ‘what are kegal exercises?’ I’m sure it would be all the women’s hands that would shoot up.

For those of you who don’t know, kegals are pelvic floor exercises that women are advised to do during their pregnancy to help avoid embarrassing ‘leaks’.

Embarrassing leaks are not confined to women who have had children, cosmetic companies spend a lot of money targeting women in general, which sweeps under the table the fact that men can suffer too. So although this is a pregnancy focussed health and fitness blog the below holistic approach could apply to anyone.

The pelvic floor (or pelvic diaphragm) consists of muscle and tissue that covers the area below your hips, keeping lots of your important bits separate. It also has important functions during childbirth helping the fetus navigate through the pelvic girdle i.e. helping contain the baby until the head is ready to engage.

So what right?

Well when I first had my first few mid-wife appointments I was told I should be doing my kegals if I wanted to say fit “down there”. This never seemed right to me and I never bothered doing them. I felt that I would be much better served by performing squats regularly and working on posture and body awareness.

Whilst pregnant I had no problems with those embarrassing leaks I was warned about and have no issues presently so for me,  I am glad I did not waste time with kegals.

I have since read a great article which further confirms my doubts regarding kegals.

According to recent research published by Rehab Management, pelvic floor incontinence has been linked to postural alignment and weak glutes. Interestingly the act of squeezing and releasing the pelvic floor (the simplest way to explain kegals) adds to the tightness of the muscle and neglects the length. Over time you tighten the muscle and by doing this reduce optimal length-tension relationship. When the pelvic floor is not functioning adequately the result is an inability to control your urge to ‘go’ or the frequency with which you need to do so, and at worse cause infection.

From a training perspective a shortened pelvic floor are key factors in stress incontinence (imagine sneezing or laughing and a bit of wee coming out! That’s stress incontinence) and is a worry when added intra-abdominal pressure is increased. I was starting to put together a picture of someone who cannot control their lower back, bad posture and a weak bottom, frantically doing their kegals without success.

The research continued to highlight a holistic approach to pelvic floor health looking closely at posture and core strength rather than isolating the muscle itself. As a CrossFitter this makes perfect sense as to we get strong by working the whole body as one unit.

Where does this leave me with kegals? In a healthy active pregnant lady I wouldn’t prescribe them.

I would look at the bigger picture, addressing posture and body awareness to the developing changes in her body. I would recommend squats regularly both with weighted resistance and without. My response is simply squats over kegals – they provide a much better and more natural way for the pelvic floor to do its job the way nature intended.

Please be aware that past 37 weeks pregnant deep squats are not advised as they can cause an early rupture of the membranes (early sign of labour).

 

Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer @ Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

 

Whooping Cough is back!

In light of the recent increases in Whooping Cough and the alarming rise in deaths this year, does the debate of vaccines need to be addressed again.

How safe is it to have a vaccine during pregnancy? and how does parents decision to refuse vaccinating there babies affect the number of cases?

The ultimate question is -Should vaccines be made mandatory? Would this save lifes?

I can totally understand the need for reassurance where vaccinating during pregnancy is concerned. Think back to the anti-sickness jab given in the 60’s which caused birth defects.

Worrying I know but the NHS website assures you that it is safe and if anything will help protect your baby in the first few weeks after birth before they have the Whooping Cough jab. I think it is really important that if you do have any worries that you do ask as many questions to your mid-wife and doctor.

I did that very thing when it came to Snoop’s MMR vaccine.

I had read a book and heard from a few friends who have nephews and nieces that aren’t vaccinated and quiet naturally my curiosity was roused.

The book I read was The Truth about Children’s Health by Robert Bernardini, M.S.

I have to say on  reading the chapter on vaccines, the content was quiet scary. I am talking about the language they used and the emotions they were trying to evoke in the reader.

In the space of 1 hour -the length of time it took to read the chapter, I had switched from being fine with vaccines to OMG.

This prompted me to speak to my doctor.

The first question she asked was how old the book was?????

It was nearly 10 years old.

She then asked me what hard facts and evidence was in the book???????

Thinking first I realised there was no real hard evidence at all, just anecdotal.

The doctor directed me to a site with an article on vaccine safety.

What I read made sense to me, more so then the book.

I have always believed that to vaccinate your child is to protect them and now I had looked further into it I was sure I was doing the right thing.

Of the millions of children vaccinated I don’t doubt some might have a funny reaction -a fever, crankyness, soreness at the site of the jab -That far out weighed the risk of Snoop getting Mumps or Whooping Cough.

As far as the book is concerned I know they are trying to inform parents but in my opinion they are scare mongering parents and blaming all of society’s issues on bad vaccines, from anti-social behavior to the increase in the prison population. It’s all down to vaccines????? I am not so sure.

Millions of children in third world countries are fighting for vaccines while parents in the West turn them down.

You can never ask too many questions so if you are in any doubt your best place to start is asking your doctor.

Do I think vaccines should be mandatory?

No I don’t think they should as it is a parents right to choose.

Do I believe in the vaccines?

Yes of-course I do, and after asking the right questions and looking into the facts I believe I made the right choice to protect my son.

 

Sally Dixey is a personal trainer with Crossfit London in Bethnal Green

 

 

An introduction to Sally’s World.

For those who know me already I am the ‘hard as nails’ Crossfit London coach with a rep to match. For all the moans and groans during my classes I do however get plenty of cheery thanks after a short recovery and swift exit from the gym dripped in sweat.

My trademark I guess you could call it, is no guts, no glory, good old fashioned hard work. I expect a lot from my faithful crew but in turn I give back ten fold and relish inventing a new devilish WOD or twisting a pre-existing toughie into a more sinister sibling.

Times are changing and as a new chapter starts for me so the need for a new vamped website, where I can whittle on about all things great and good.

What new chapter I hear you ask??????

Motherhood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Motherhood and Crossfit are not essentially two words you would instantly put together. But think about it for a moment…….The changes to a women’s body at this precious time in her life, are they not the epitome of Crossfit and require the same consideration to fitness that you normally would? Did you know there is a Crossfit Mom site?

Ok so maybe you would need to scale down and modify but for anyone who can’t see that the act of giving birth will require more stamina then even the toughest Games event is mad and really needs to have a heart to heart with their mother.

I am at the end of my first trimester and over the next 6 months I will blog/report/investigate and document just how incredible a women’s body is and why Crossfit can play a great part in keeping me and my bump in the best possible shape.

This is a time to celebrate the wonder of health and wellbeing and I intend on sharing my passions with the world.

I invite anyone out there who has any questions or comments to contact me at

Sally@crossfitlondonuk.com