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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Pelvic Floor an Overlooked, Important Aspect of Women's Health

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Exercise can help strengthen, improve function

ATLANTA – Performing pelvic floor exercises are a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of women’s health, said an expert today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition.

Sheila Dugan, M.D., FACSM, says keeping the pelvic floor – the sling of muscles connecting the pubic and tail bones – healthy is key for everything from supporting organs surrounding the pelvis to maintaining normal sexual function. The pelvic floor also supports the actions of the spine and legs, helping everything to work in a coordinated manner and allowing people to walk, jump and run.

“The pelvic floor is equally important during childbirth as it is in training for a marathon,” Dugan said. “That’s why women need to be cognizant about keeping these muscles healthy.”

An unhealthy pelvic floor can be either “hypotonic” (low muscle tone) or “hypertonic.” Women with hypotonic pelvic floors often experience incontinence, while hypertonics can experience pain and incontinence.

Dugan provided exercises for women in either category to keep their pelvic floor in shape.

  • Practice deep breathing, with the feeling of letting the pelvic floor muscles “drop away” from the body. Spend at least five minutes breathing this way during the day, especially when feeling stressed or tense.
  • Lay on your back with the bottoms of your feet together and your knees dropped to the side. This will help relax the groin and pelvic floor muscles together, as they often work in conjunction. Lay this way for at least five minutes and if the stretch feels too intense, you can place a small pillow under each knee.
  • Lay on your back and attempt to smoothly draw your lower belly muscles in, as though you were wearing a girdle or corset, for a count of five, then slowly release. Repeat 10 times several times per day as time permits.
  • Lay on your back and lift the pelvic muscles in and up for a count of five, then slowly lower for a count of five. Repeat several times per day as time permits. This lifting and squeezing action is similar to the action taken when stopping urine mid-stream. However, Dugan does not recommend this technique while urinating.

Women who have recently given birth will especially gain benefits from these exercises, Dugan says.

“During childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles stretch from teacup-sized to the size of an infant’s head. This stretching and tearing requires healing and regain of function.”

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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