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7 tips that healthy women can adopt at any age for a long-lasting, happy life
Healthy women in Brisbane enjoy quality healthcare and great living standards which means they can expect to live longer than anticipated. Quality of life is important as you won’t be able to enjoy it if you’re not fit and healthy. Here are a few easy to implement, physiotherapist-approved tips to help women at any stage in their life or age to do just that.
Watch our 15 minute video to see these 7 techniques in action or keep reading…
1. Simple Exercise to help women stay healthy
Even a little bit of exercise is more beneficial than absolutely none. If you have an injury or illness or are just unfit, take a walk around your home or property. If you cannot walk, then try a seated arm or shoulder exercise, lifting your arms up while keeping your back and shoulder muscles from stiffening. Another great exercise if you can’t walk, is to move your legs and feet slightly, improving your circulation, and ensuring that dangerous blood clots don’t occur. You can also try to squeeze the muscles in your bottom for some added exercise. While you should always accept help when you need it, it is good to retain physical independence. Just keep your steps long and even and stop if your lower back or pelvic area start to feel tired.
2. Avoid sitting still for too long
Every half hour of being stationary must be broken up by a minute of moving or walking around. It will keep your buttock muscles from weakening, which will make standing easier and help prevent pain in your lower back. This helps because your body’s tissues and its muscles can remember a position, so if you keep a position for too long, it will be harder to straighten out afterwards.
3. Keep your bones strong with exercises that makes your body bear a load
Exercise that places weight on your bones will reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. You can use hand held weights or complete push ups using a bench surface to strengthen your arm, back and shoulder bones. Walking will strengthen hip joints as well as leg bones without exacerbating back pain, while also boosting the muscles on the floor of the pelvis.
4. Walk upright
Having a good posture is critical to your balance, which in turn will keep you from falling. It benefits the pelvic floor when your central muscles are activated, keeping your belly tucked in. It’s easy to practice this throughout the day and, as a bonus, it will make you look taller and younger.
5. Exercise the muscles of your pelvic floor
At Graceville Physio, we strongly believe that the muscles of the pelvic floor are one of the most important in a woman’s body. It’s a muscle that benefits from the previously mentioned exercises and activities, as well as by doing specific pelvic floor exercises. As many women know, a weak pelvic floor can create bowel or bladder incontinence, but few understand exactly why.
Your pelvic floor muscles form a hammock that keeps internal organs in place within your abdomen, and when this muscle is contracted or lifted these organs are in turn lifted, preventing them from prolapsing. It also works to stabilise your lower back, as activating this area tilts your tailbone, stabilising your lower spine.
Prolapsing can occur in the bladder, bowel or uterus and in addition to being embarrassing and life altering, can even require surgical intervention in order to hoist these organs back to their right place in absence of a fully functional pelvic floor.
A common misconception people have is that being seated means you have to activate these muscles. Sitting simply does not engage this muscle as much as standing does, unless you’re coughing, sneezing or doing pelvic floor exercises in your chair. You need to understand this as it demonstrates to you exactly why maintaining a strong pelvic floor isn’t as difficult as it may seem. In fact, you might even create an overactive pelvic floor from doing too many Kegel exercises that your body doesn’t actually need. Ironically, an overactive pelvic floor can create much of the same problems that a weak pelvic floor does, such as incontinence due to the fact that the muscle has been exhausted due to too many contracting exercises. It can even create pain.
Another common misconception held is that bracing your abdominal area will help strengthen your entire core without side effects. The reality is repetitively bracing this muscle and holding your breath can increase pressure in the abdomen, pushing down on the muscles of your pelvic floor. In time this constant pressure can lead to the muscles stretching and weakening.
Other seemingly minor things that can all contribute to your pelvic floor weakening are a seasonal cold, respiratory illnesses that cause constant coughing or sneezing (both of which place pressure on the muscles of your pelvic floor, as well as chronic constipation, as it makes your lower back hurt and weakens your tummy muscles due to straining.
How to Keep Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Active
To keep your pelvic floor muscles performing well, you need to take care not to place strain on them or to under or over-exercise them. An exercise you can discreetly do at any time or any place to make sure you’re lifting your pelvic floor muscles (as if to keep yourself from urinating) is to exhale outwards whenever you’re lifting something up, reaching for an object, or making a pushing and pulling motion. This will stabilise your lower back by tilting your tailbone, as long as you take care not to exert yourself with items heavier than five kilograms in weight.
If you’re feeling unwell and have the coughs and sniffles, take care to cough and sneeze in a downwards motion, having your ribs move towards your hips with each motion to lessen downward pressure on your pelvic floor.
Constipation-related pelvic floor damage can be prevented by positioning the body forward and elevating your knees above the hips with a stool or something of a similar height when visiting the loo. This will promote elimination of faeces without straining. You can also prevent constipation from occurring in the first place by staying hydrated with plenty of water, eating lots of fibre containing foods and avoiding pills, like codeine, which have constipating side effects.
Many older women seek out assisted living facilities as they age due to the development of both faecal and urinary incontinence that have come about after a lifetime of pressure, straining an inactivity of these crucial muscles. Taking the above advice into consideration from an earlier age will go a long way towards avoiding these problems from occurring.
6. Exercise in Groups
If you find it hard to commit to exercising, find a group of friends or just one person to do it with you, so you can both encourage each other to keep going. A daily walk alongside a friend or a group session attended weekly will help you to develop good health habits while giving you a social and mental boost, allowing you to share problems in your life as a form of stress release.
7. Complete these movements three times a day:
- Try to get up from sitting in a chair while squeezing your buttocks together and holding a good posture. Do this at least ten times without using your hands to balance.
- While standing upright, place your feet together and stand on your toes while lifting your heels. Do this ten times in a row, ensuring your heels remain together and you’re actively lifting your pelvic floor muscles. You can use the back of a chair to help maintain your balance.
- Stand facing the back of a chair. You can place one hand on the chair’s back for balance. While standing, slowly lift an arm and look directly at it, tracking its movement with your eyes as you circle it in a slow motion. Do ten of these on the left, then right, controlling your breath by inhaling and lifting your pelvis floor as your arm lifts upwards, exhaling when your arm circles back to the starting point.
- Find a counter to hold onto and face it. Slowly lower yourself, keeping the pelvis muscles lifted. Keep your elbows tucked in and shoulders pushed down and back. Do this lowering motion ten times.
- Develop balance by practicing having one leg in the air for 60 seconds, and then switching from left to the right ten times in a row. Ensure that the leg that’s not being lifted is squeezed from the bottom throughout the motion.
- Facing the back of a chair and using it’s back for balance, lower your body into a squatting position, keeping your weight balanced on your heels. When rising again, engage your butt muscles with a squeeze.
Getting older is inevitable but getting weaker or sicker isn’t. Follow our tips to help you live a longer, happier and healthier life.
If you’re experiencing pelvic floor issues, pain or discomfort why not book in for a consultation with one of our friendly physiotherapists at our Brisbane clinic.
find us in the GRACEVILLE QUARTER BUILDING 2/296 Oxley Rd, Graceville, QLD
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