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ASK THE EXPERT.

Q: "I didn''t do any pelvic floor exercises before or after having children, and now my pelvic floor seems very weak and I wet myself when I sneeze or cough. Is there any way I can strengthen it now?'' ASK THE EXPERT A: Jenni Russell, author of Pelvic Floor Secrets (Filament Publishing, PS15.99), says: "Yes, luckily there is a way to strengthen your pelvic floor. It takes time and discipline but the results will more than make up for the effort.

"Childbirth, especially in the unnatural position lying down, lifestyle choices, weight gain, hormone imbalance and stress, to name a few, can all have a long-term adverse effect on your pelvic floor strength. Fortunately, as long as there are healthy fibres within your pelvic floor (there in most women) and with the right programme of exercise, you can rebuild the muscles.

"Pelvic floor workouts don''t require hours in the gym - you can do them anywhere. As the muscles can tire quickly, short sharp workouts are all you need.

"Squats combined with correct breathing are fantastic for toning up the pelvic floor, and the knock-on benefits are better abs, thighs and bottom shape. "Many women know about kegel exercises for the pelvic floor from when they were pregnant, but there are others that can be more effective.

"One of the simplest ways to get started is to lie on your back and put the soles of your feet together, breathe in, and as you breathe out, make your mouth into an 'o' shape, and pull up the muscles of the perineum (the small space between the vagina and bottom). You'll feel a pull in your abdominals. You can do this in any position, including squatting.

"For most women, strengthening the pelvic floor is easily achievable within six weeks. Not only will you no longer wet yourself doing normal everyday activities, your body will look better, with flatter abs and a shapelier behind, and the effect on your sex life will be incredible. "Many women think pelvic floor weakness is a normal part of having children or ageing but it doesn''t have to be this way, and the sooner you start improving your pelvic floor strength with specific exercises, the better.''

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| EXPERT: Jenni Russell, author of Pelvic Floor Secrets
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2013
Words:380
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