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Wellness

5 Things That You May Not Know About Your Pelvic Floor Muscles…

Guest Blog by Taryn Watson

We all know that we have a pelvic floor, we know that it’s important to keep it in tip-top shape to prevent embarrassing little mishaps, and we know that in order to keep it working we need to do some exercises called ‘Kegels’, right? Well, here are five facts about the pelvic floor muscles that Women’s Health & Continence Physiotherapists want you to know about…

  1. Pelvic Floor Muscle exercises cannot be learnt from an information brochure

Often women are told by a midwife, a GP, a friend or the internet that they need to do pelvic floor muscle exercises (AKA ‘Kegel’ exercises, named after Mr Kegel who wrote articles about the benefits of exercising the pelvic floor muscles back in the 1950’s). This is a great starting point, but unfortunately we know from studying women performing pelvic floor contractions that many are actually doing the wrong action if they only receive verbal instruction. In fact, in one study 50% of women were incorrectly activating the muscle when checked on ultrasound, and in another study of women with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (incontinence, prolapse of the pelvic organs) less than 40% were doing it correctly, and another 40% were activating the muscles in a way that was bearing down and could worsen problems.

So, in summary, it’s really essential to get an individual assessment of your pelvic floor before doing these exercises, especially if you already have any bladder leakage or vaginal prolapse. Make an appointment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist who can do either an abdominal ultrasound, a vaginal examination, or both, and tell you exactly what type of exercise program you should be doing.

  1. It’s not all about the squeeze

Pelvic Floor Muscle exercises do involve squeezing around the urethra, the vagina and the anus. However, exercising this muscle is not just about maximally squeezing these sphincters. It’s really important to also feel an upward, forward lift of the area between your sit bones, it’s really important to be able to hold on and breathe at the same time, and it’s really important to be able to let go. It’s also essential that the muscle can be activated in a variety of postures and movements, and that it can automatically come on when a pressure goes through the abdomen like a cough, a sneeze, or a jump.

All of these things can be assessed by a specialist physiotherapist and can be integrated into an exercise program designed especially for you.

  1. Being able to hold on a long time between toilet visits is not necessarily a sign of a strong pelvic floor

This is something that I hear a lot of women say – “I know that I have a good pelvic floor because I can hold on for ages between going to the toilet!”. Ummm… nope. Sure, having well-functioning pelvic floor muscles can help you to get to the toilet without leaking on the way there, but going for long periods between urinating is a sign of a large bladder capacity, or not drinking enough fluid, or both.

It’s healthy to drink 1.5-2L of fluid per day, mainly water with limited caffeine, and to go to the toilet to urinate 4-7 times per day (approximately 2-3 hourly) and 0-1 times overnight. If you find yourself only needing to go to the toilet a couple of times in a 24 hour period, but you’re drinking a good amount of fluid, you should probably mention this to your GP, and work out why your bladder isn’t giving you appropriate signals to empty sooner.

  1. A pelvic floor can’t be ‘Too Strong’ but it can definitely be ‘Too Tight’.

I’ve heard women say that their obstetrician told them that they tore during childbirth, or they had trouble stretching the pelvic floor muscles as the baby’s head was crowning, because their pelvic floor muscles were ‘too strong’ and perhaps they shouldn’t have been exercising these muscles during pregnancy. This is worrying because it may turn pregnant women off doing these very important exercises – it’s just that they need to be done correctly.

If your pelvic floor muscles are tense and not able to stretch easily, you might experience pain or difficulty with sex, tampons and vaginal examinations. Tight muscles like this anywhere in the body are not usually very strong – they are weak because they are overworked and exhausted. This is why for this group of women, learning to exercise these muscle correctly is ESPECIALLY important.

A physiotherapist who does vaginal examinations can tell you if your muscles are able to relax on cue or not. If it turns out the you have tight or painful pelvic floor muscles and you are not able to fully relax, it is very important that you don’t do the ‘recipe’ pelvic floor muscle exercise program involving lots of quick lifts and long holds. Instead, the physiotherapist will give you a ‘down-training’ exercise program to teach you how to fully relax the muscles with a variety of techniques like breathing, mindfulness and feedback. Then when you have achieved this, you may then be given strength and endurance exercises to do, but these exercises should never be done without complete relaxation in between repetitions.

  1. Keeping generally fit is fantastic for your pelvic floor muscles, but there are certain types of exercises that might actually worsen pelvic floor issues if done incorrectly.

Regular exercise that challenges your muscles and gets your heart rate up is very important for all women – it can prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and many other chronic health issues. However, research has shown that certain activities have a higher rate of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction in the form of stress urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse. These include exercise that involve heavy loads, running and jumping, like basketball, gymnastics, and many group fitness classes.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate in these forms of exercise if you have had a baby or you have some form of pelvic floor dysfunction. But it is highly recommended that if you’re a woman and you choose to do a form of exercise that is high impact or high load, you should have a pelvic floor assessment with a specialist physiotherapist to see what’s happening in your nether-regions while you’re exercising!

It’s not about the type of exercise, it how you do the exercise that matters. If you are doing yoga or pilates exercises in a way that pushes down into the pelvis, that can cause more problems than lifting very heavy weights with good technique. Individual assessment is the key, but the bottom line is (pardon the pun) that no leakage or prolapse symptoms should be experienced with any form of exercise. Don’t ‘pad up and play on’, see a specialist physiotherapist sooner rather than later – research has shown that if these issues are caught early, more than 80% of women are cured with an individualised program from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

So how do you get in touch with a Physiotherapist that specialises in Women’s Health and Continence? It’s easy – no referral is needed if you’re happy to see someone privately, just do some research into physiotherapy practices in your local area and ask the receptionist if they have any practitioners who have done extra training in Women’s Health & Continence. If you’d like to see someone in the public system, ask your GP to refer you. Ideally it would be good to see a physiotherapist who does internal vaginal examinations as this will give you a much larger amount of information than an external assessment.

5 things you may not know about your pelvic floor

Taryn Watson is a Women’s Health & Continence Physiotherapist from Perth, Australia. She runs a pregnancy and postnatal exercise class business called FitRight. If you’re pregnant or have recently had a baby, check out her recently launched online video series called ‘Postnatal Rehab: The First Six Weeks’ – you can learn all about early rehabilitation exercises and advice for the pelvic floor muscles, the abdominal muscles and more.

Taryn consults from Southcare Physiotherapy in Murdoch and can see patients for pelvic floor muscle assessments there – call 9332 2132 for appointments.

You can find Taryn on FB www.facebook.com/fitrightphysio or Instagram @fitrightphysio

 

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Wellness

7 wellness trends you must try

Who doesn’t love a health fad? I certainly do! I’ve done clay cleanses and juice cleanses, I’ve had my bowel cleansed by a small posh lady via a clear tube while I watched. I’ve attempted a lemon detox that literally lasted 2 hours. I convinced myself I’m intolerant to dairy and gluten (I wasn’t). I even attended a 7 day biggest loser style boot camp in Thailand while surviving on a raw food diet… should have read the brochure.

Obviously as a property manager I have no health qualifications and I can already feel my nutritionist friend shaking her head before I’ve even had the chance to hit publish… BUT if like me, you like to waste your well earned money on the latest in wellness trends. Take in my 7 wellness trends you must try… you’ll be tricking yourself into thinking you’re healthy AF in no time. 

1.Supercharged heal your gut powder

wellness trends
From $18.00

A clean digestive system is the starting point for overall body and mind health and this product can help you to optimise the overall health and function of your gut. As my nutritionist would say, the body is designed to detox naturally BUT this amazing discovery by Lee Homes is 100% fossil shell flour (technically called Diatomaceous Earth which sounds super impressive), a food-grade ingredient that is effective at thoroughly cleansing your digestive system by gently removing toxins, impurities, build up and even parasites.

2. Period proof underwear

wellness trends
From $29.50

Throw out your old ‘period nickers’ because these have a built-in Breathable, moisture wicking, absorbent and antibacterial liner. The liner is barely detectable and wonderfully discreet. It has ‘Light’ (up to 5mls) or ‘Moderate’ Absorbency (8-10mls) and is designed to protect from light periods and leaks during your time of the month.

3. The Bellabeat Leaf 

wellness trends
$169.95

The Bellabeat Leaf is an everyday well-being tracker designed to keep your health and fitness on track! Created with highly sensitive movement sensors and secure data backup, it runs all day and all night to monitor your sleep, activity, meditation and period cycle. It also has a fully customised, motivating reminder system to help you remember to take your vitamins, drink more water and get up and move! The built-in mindfulness and guided meditation function teaches you to calm your mind and stay focused.

 

4. Oil Pulling Treatment

wellness trends
From $24.95

The Dr Tungs Oil Pulling Concentrate should be used as part of your teeth-cleaning routine, to strengthen the gums and improve oral health, while detoxifying and conditioning the mouth. It is works to alleviate mouth dryness which comes in handy if you drink way too much coffee.

5. Activated charcoal

wellness trends
From $13.50

Activated Charcoal has been used for many years by alternative health practitioners to support our organ function by helping to remove heavy metals, toxins, mercury, nicotine, alcohol, parasites, drugs, pesticides and chlorine. Drinking Pure Eden’s Activated Charcoal may assist with lowering cholesterol, increased immunity, healing sores/ulcers and infections, flu symptoms, digestion, nausea, skin complexion, arthritis and minimising a hangover.

6. Silk pillow

wellness trends
$69.95

Ideal for keeping hair frizz-free and skin smooth and wrinkle free! Wrinkle free ladies! This Pure Mulberry silk pillowcase by Life Basics is hand made from 100% Pure ethical, peace silk from the beautiful Bombyx Mori Silk Worm. Each pillow case comes in a beautiful gift box.

7. Collagen Face Mask

wellness trends
From $9.95

No this is not a prop out of Friday the 13th. These Ginseng Collagen Boost Masks are designed to promote youthful, plump skin. Made with a Hydrogel material that is composed of 95% Organic Aloe Water and 5% Plant Cellulose, the mask is placed over the face and gently absorbed by the skin. The key ingredients used are Korean Red Ginseng, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid, which acts like a natural Botox to help firm, plump, lift and smooth the skin.

8. Magnesium Cream

 

wellness trends
From $4.95

As usual I’m adding in more than 7 #sorrynotsorry – Elektra Magensium Cream offers the brand’s signature 15% food grade potency Magensium which is absorbed through your skin more efficiently than it is through being digested.

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Wellness

Nutrition with Sarah Moore Wellness

Last week I had a private in-home consultation with Sarah from SarahMooreWellness.com.au. Sarah and I had built up a friendship on Instagram so when we discussed having a consultation I was super excited. The first blog post of Sarah’s that really interested me was about doing a lemon detox but it was her finding hidden sugars post that totally won me over by teaching me how to read food labels.

Sarah Moore Wellness

I’ve always been interested in seeing a nutritionist but I’ve never really known how to find one. I googled once but the big world wide web just scared me off as I imagined being conned into one of those Herbalife pyramid schemes. Which believe me is very possible considering I almost bought two $30 whisks from Big W a few months ago. Like literally bought two for sixty freaking dollars after an in-store demo then found basically the same ones in red dot for $2.99 so returned them and got my money back. Anyway I’m getting off track. So basically finding Sarah on Instagram who was a legit registered nutritionist in Perth with a Bachelor of Science and Masters of public health was a huge win. I mean people pay so much money for personal trainers to help work out their bodies, they should really be paying a nutritionist to find out what to feed their bodies too.

Sarah Moore Wellness

Before our scheduled consultation, Sarah sent me a client form to fill out. I always feel apprehensive filling out forms about health and always want to lie but I felt confident knowing that it was totally confidential. I also liked that I could fill it out online and email it back without the risk of my boss seeing it on the printer. I resisted the urge to lie and I also resisted strategically placing coconut water and kale around my kitchen. Which really just means I was totally unorganised and I prioritised panic cleaning before she came over.

Sarah Moore Wellness

Sarah arrived right on scheduled time and I instantly liked her. I actually wanted to give her a hug at my front door which is very unlike me but I resisted the urge and decided on a professional handshake. I offered Sarah a coffee and she said yes so I felt like our friendship was off to a great start. A little small talk about blogging to break the ice then I took her over to the dining area so we could sit down and talk nutrition. Sarah had asked me what I wanted from the consultation and I really just wanted her to advise me if the vitamins and foods I eat regularly are good options as I’m still trying to lose the baby weight. I like to think I’m not stupid when it comes to nutrition, like don’t eat redskins for dinner but I want to make sure I’m on the right track with our regular meals. I took out my epic vitamin stash which I think even shocked Sarah and she taught me the difference between fat soluble and water soluble vitamins. We discussed what supplements are a waste of time and what nutrients I should be getting from food.

After that we moved into the kitchen where Sarah taught me how to read through the labels on the items we buy regularly like our bread, wraps, crumpets, cereal, yoghurt and pizza bases. Most of our other food is bought fresh so I was pleasantly surprised that with a few tweaks I could easily buy different alternatives that make a huge difference to our health. While Sarah was over I thought I would totally take advantage and ask for some advice on formula and what to feed Will. I mean family health is her specialty so it really would’ve been rude not to ask!

Sarah Moore Wellness

I feel like having Sarah come and talk to me about nutrition was a great boost for my weight loss goals. I even walked around Woolworths thinking WWSD (What would Sarah Do) over and over, deciding to put a red cabbage in the trolley and skipping the chocolate aisle. I cannot recommend Sarah highly enough for private consultations in Perth as her knowledge base is so amazing. Sarah offers private consultations in-home or she often meets clients at cafes close to their work. If you aren’t in Perth, Sarah also offers email Q & A’s so check out the services on her website.

Oh and if you still aren’t sold then you HAVE to see her recipe for Frozen Cheesecake bites. I mean come on, who doesn’t love cheesecake?! While you’re at it give her Facebook page a like and follow her on Instagram for awesome family recipes and wellness advice.

Nourished Life ORGANIC superfoods

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Wellness

That time I ended up at Fat Camp

I thought that Throwback Thursday was a perfect day to post about the time I went to fat camp. If you follow my Instagram @thatgypsymum you would have seen this photo I posted:

Fat campThat was 4 years ago now and the result of months of hard work. The funny thing is I didn’t go to fat camp to lose weight, it wasn’t even called a fat camp, it was called a Thai fitness bootcamp. I went to support my brother who wanted to go to improve his fitness. He had a bad car accident years earlier and wanted to get fit after a long recovery. He organised the whole thing and somehow I thought that I was going to a lovely retreat in the mountains. I imagined spending my days getting massages, doing yoga, lying by the pool and occasionally attending training sessions that I would ace because everyone else in the group would be unhealthy compared to my fit self. I couldn’t of been more wrong.

We arrived, checked in and attended the group meeting where we received our program. I quickly realised this was no holiday camp. Our program consisted of nine hours of exercise a day! Yes that’s right – NINE HOURS A DAY not including lettuce breaks. There was only eight of us in the group so clearly they would notice if I disappeared to lay by the pool. Being the competitive person I am, I sized up the others in the group and put myself roughly at the top in terms of health and fitness. There was a Nike marketing representative who ran every morning so she was probably fitter than me. There was an ex army guy but he was way older and at the end of a lengthy honeymoon with his wife so I ranked myself in with them. There were two really attractive girls that said they were training for a marathon but they seemed more leisure than lifting weights. Their mother was no match and then there was my brother who was bigger than me and recovering from an accident so obvs he was no competition. We had our weigh in and I was surprised at my measurements, maybe I was more out of shape than I had realised. After our weigh in we had ‘before’ photos taken then went straight to our first training session. It was horrendous. It was circuit training and I actually thought I was going to die. I looked over at my brother who was coping fine, there was no way I could be doing worse than him. I think I actually went into shock, my dream of 10 relaxing days in Thailand was shattered.

The next day I woke up so sore I had to lean on the bathroom vanity to get up off the toilet. Even the one step down out of the villa was too much to bear. We went for a long hike through the jungle up a huge hill which was so beautiful I could almost distract myself from the pain. I was starving after my raw food breakfast of some kind of seeds in almond milk but it was off to a fitness centre miles away (walking of course) to complete a fitness test so we could track our results. The sun was beating down on us and I was just lucky it wasn’t humid. I had blisters on my feet already but I was optimistic as I walked near the front of the pack. We arrived to complete our beep test which I was still confident about because I used to be a long distance runner so knew it was all a mental game. I was going to kill it, pain is weakness leaving the body and all that shit. Well I was terrible. I got a 4 which is laughable and considered very poor. I was so fucking bad that even my brother kicked my ass. Immediately afterwards I text my dad to let him know that my brother had beaten me and my dad said it was the funniest thing he had heard in his life. I was meant to be there to support him!

The week of fun continued. One day we cycled up a mountain for four hours avoiding huge lorry trucks with the reward being a horrible elephant retreat where men were poking them with sticks so they would do tricks. Another day we walked so far I asked the Nike representative to check if my Nike jogging shoes had worn down too far to be safe for exercise. My muscles were so sore that the massages we received nightly were torture. The sauna sessions were so dehydrating I drank too much water and needed to pee all night. One morning I thought I could not keep going. I did not sign up for the biggest loser and I would just not show up but I felt guilty and the pressure of a small group made me go. Day by day the pain went away and by day 5 the sessions weren’t easy but definitely not hard anymore. I felt like I had lost heaps of weight from how my clothes were fitting and I could tell I was less bloated from the hell diet raw food diet we were on.

On day 6 tragedy struck. My knee gave away. I had previously undergone two ACL reconstructions on my left knee. The first time from netball, the second time I say it was from jumping a puddle but might have been from stepping off a dancing podium onto a stray bottle at Club Bayview. So here I was with a swollen knee on ice unable to participate much. It would have been welcomed on Day 1 but I only had one day to go and I wanted to beat my brother so bad on the beep test. The last day came and my knee was so bad I couldn’t even do the beep test! I turned up expecting a relaxing holiday, realised I was in biggest loser territory, still thought I could kick ass but then couldn’t even finish the week! Here is the before and after photos and results from one week of bootcamp:

One Week Results
One Week Results
Results
Results

Even though I didn’t pass and my brother won in the fitness department. I felt abso-bloody-lutely AMAZING. I thought I was Cindy-Crawford-American-flag-bikini-cut-off-denims HOT. Clearly I wasn’t anything like that but who cares I felt wonderful. I couldn’t wait to see my boyfriend at Bangkok airport, he had been away with a mate in Phuket for a week of partying and he was going to die when he saw the new me. When I saw him I thought he was literally going to die but not because of the way I looked but because he had partied too hard and ended up with both flu and gastro. He was so skinny it was like he’d been at a boot camp for months. I felt so ripped off, I had worked my ass off while he partied and he was slimmer than me.

I didn’t see the before and after photos until they were emailed to me at home. I was horrified both at the way I looked before and the way I looked after. Not because I thought I was so overweight but because I was clearly so puffy and unhealthy. Years of junk food and alcohol abuse had taken their toll. It was time for a change.

My boyfriend and I had already quit our jobs before the trip and had planned a 3 month holiday camping along the Western Australian coast so we took the opportunity to eat meat and salads for every meal, we trained for 30 – 60 minutes every day which wasn’t hard after participating in the biggest loser. We swam in the ocean, took long walks along the soft sand and the result was:

Months later
Months later

I obviously don’t look like that now 4 months after having a baby but my brother is currently in Thailand on another fitness camp so today had me reminiscing about how wonderful I felt. My husband and I are planning another long 3 month camping trip at the end of this year so while he takes care of the baby I will be getting my fitness back on track. Watch out Kayla Itsines I’m coming for ya.

That skirt fit me for one day
That skirt fit me for one day
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