Happy Movember! This month has been declared Men’s Health Awareness Month, but rather than sport a false moustache in support, I thought it would be more useful to look at one way that exercise can help tackle a number of men’s health problems with some physio support.
Movember highlights many issues that don’t receive the attention they deserve, partly because men don’t like talking about them. One area is pelvic floor strength.
Pelvic floor weakness is seen as a predominantly female problem, particularly after pregnancy, but men also benefit from pelvic floor muscle training, particularly when recovering from prostate cancer surgery.
A healthy pelvic floor is good for men as well as women
Your pelvic floor muscles are like a muscular sling supporting the bladder and bowel. They help control when you urinate or empty your bowels. Here are just some of the problems that can arise with a weak pelvic floor:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Stress Urinary Incontinence
- Urgency and urge incontinence. A sudden urge to pass urine
- Faecal Urgency and incontinence. A sudden strong urge to open bowels
There are many other problems caused by a weak pelvic floor and the risk of getting complications increases with age, yet most men aren’t even aware of their pelvic floor, let alone the exercises that strengthen it.
Why is my pelvic floor weak?
There are many reasons the pelvic floor may become weaker, not least surgery for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate gland. Other causes include:
- Lack of exercise
- Straining to open your bowels
- Straining during heavy lifting
- Being overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your pelvic floor.
- Chronic coughing. Every time you cough your pelvic floor is put under strain.
If any of these problems relate to you, have you thought about starting to add some pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine before more serious problems develop? Pelvic floor exercises are quick and easy to do and any physio can show you how to do them.
Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor
Before you begin your exercises, you should know where your pelvic floor actually is, so you can tell if you’re exercising it properly. Try stopping the flow of urine mid-stream to see how strong your muscles are. The pulling upwards feeling you get is your pelvic floor muscle lifting and tensing to stop the flow.
To do the exercises, sit down and make sure your feet are flat on the floor with your legs slightly apart. Then lean forward with your elbows on your knees. Then do the following exercises:
- Slow twitch. Do this exercise first. Close and draw in the muscles around your back passage and then around your urethra, as though you are trying to stop a flow of urine (don’t do this exercise whilst you’re urinating as it can cause urinary retention). Make sure not to tense your buttock muscles or hold your breath. Count to ten, then relax for a count of ten and repeat this until you feel tired.
- Fast Twitch – repeat the slow twitch exercise but only hold for a second and then relax, again, repeat until your muscles feel tired.
Need some help or advice about pelvic floor exercises?
It can be difficult to do these exercises effectively because it’s not obvious or easy to tell if you’re tensing the right muscles. This isn’t an exercise you’ll want to do in the gym, in front of the wall mirrors and it can be a difficult subject to ask about.
However, male health is a subject we take seriously. If you want some extra help with these exercises or you’d like to know more about strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, we’d be delighted to offer discreet and expert advice at Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic. Call us on 01730 267645 or email us.