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  • Dr. Theresa Pulickal

The Importance of Pelvic Floor Health in Summer: A Comprehensive Guide


As summer arrives with longer sunny days and outdoor activities, it's important to remember that maintaining pelvic floor health is crucial for overall well-being. The pelvic floor, a group of muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs, plays a vital role in urinary and bowel control, sexual function, and core stability. Here’s why focusing on pelvic floor health is essential during the summer and how you can incorporate it into your seasonal wellness routine.

Understanding the Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is a complex structure that stretches like a hammock from the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone at the back. It supports the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Weakness or dysfunction in these muscles can lead to issues such as incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, discomfort with fitness and during sexual activity.

The Impact of Summer Activities

Summer often means increased physical activity, whether it's swimming, running, hiking, or participating in sports. While staying active is excellent for overall health, certain activities can put additional stress on the pelvic floor muscles. High-impact exercises, heavy lifting, and even prolonged periods of sitting (such as during long road trips) can strain these muscles, leading to discomfort or exacerbating existing issues.

Hydration and Pelvic Floor Health

Proper hydration is crucial for pelvic floor health. Dehydration can lead to constipation, which puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Ensure you're drinking enough water throughout the day, especially if you're active or spending time in the heat. Water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and strawberries, can also help keep you hydrated.

Exercise and Strengthening

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy pelvic floor..  Exercises like swimming, cycling, and walking are excellent choices. Additionally, incorporating pelvic floor exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, into your routine can strengthen these muscles. To perform a pelvic floor contraction with diaphragmatic breath, inhale through your nose into your belly letting your pelvic floor lengthen.  Exhale through the mouth as if blowing out a candle and contraction your pelvic floor muscles but squeezing the urethra (as if stopping the flow of urine), vagina, and anus,  You should feel your lower abdominal tightness subtly and belly button slightly press back towards your spine. 

Posture and Core Stability

Good posture and core stability are important for pelvic floor health. Engage in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, such as Pilates or yoga, which promote overall stability and support the pelvic floor. Be mindful of your posture, especially when sitting for long periods, and avoid slouching to reduce pressure on the pelvic region.

Managing Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial for pelvic floor health, as excess weight can increase pressure on the pelvic muscles. Summer is a great time to focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Staying active with regular exercise also helps in managing weight and reducing pelvic floor strain.

Clothing and Hygiene

Wearing breathable, moisture-wicking clothing can prevent irritation and infections in the pelvic area, especially during hot and humid weather. Opt for cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothes that can restrict circulation. Proper hygiene, including changing out of wet swimsuits promptly, is essential to maintain pelvic health and prevent infections.

Seeking Professional Help

If you experience symptoms like urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, or discomfort during sexual activity, consider consulting a healthcare professional. A physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor health can provide tailored exercises and treatments to address specific issues. Early intervention can prevent minor problems from becoming more severe.

Conclusion

Pelvic floor health is a crucial aspect of women's wellness, especially during the summer when physical activity levels and environmental factors can impact these essential muscles. By staying hydrated, choosing the right exercises, maintaining good posture, managing weight, and practicing proper hygiene, women can support their pelvic floor health and enjoy a vibrant, active summer. Remember, proactive care and attention to pelvic floor health can lead to long-term benefits, enhancing overall quality of life and well-being.












Theresa Pulickal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in Pelvic Floor Health and Wellness


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