If there is one exercise to master, it is the squat. Chances are, as a mum, you have an abundance of opportunities to squat in daily life, so let’s maximise this opportunity for some great glute activation while connecting with our core and pelvic floor in an optimal way.
Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of your squats:
This can be a rather personal thing when squatting. People have different shaped hip sockets that can make some squats more comfortable than others or allow some people to have greater range in a certain stance than others. Most people prefer to have their feet at shoulder width, if not a little wider. Also, you may find it more comfortable to turn your toes out slightly which will allow for the weight to be in the heels and a deeper range of motion. It is also recommended that women with prolapse use a narrower stance so that the pelvic floor isn’t as stretched (and compromised) during the movement.
How we breath when under load has a big impact on our pelvic floor. For our squats we want to inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. It will give you more power as you come up and help lift the pelvic floor rather than pushing down on it during the exertion part of the movement.
3. The Movement
There are usually two errors I see made with posture during the squat. Either mums tip forward too much when they come down into their squat so they are hinging at the hips, or they are keeping too upright and flaring their ribs out with an arch in the lower back. Think about staying tall as you squat but keeping your ribs down. Also, aim to keep your knees behind your toes as you squat down and push through your heels to come up.
When I was first being trained as a PT at 16 years of age, my mentor was big on visualising the muscle/s you are wanting to work. It stuck with me and is possibly why I have always had the ability to activate a muscle on request. Very handy at the physio. Here is a visualisation for your squats. As you descend into the squat inhale and imagine the weight being back in your heels, as you exhale visualise pushing down through your heels, lifting up through the pelvic floor and squeezing the buttocks.
5. Exercise selection
There are a plethora of squat exercises to choose from so you are bound to find some faves. Narrow squats, sumo squats, split squats (aka lunges), single leg squats, etc, etc. Listen to your body, check in with your pelvic floor and pick the squat that feels good for you.
Our Go Mum trainers love connecting with women's health physiotherapists both in Brisbane and around the world. One of our favourite local physios has written this article on one of our biggest pet peeves. Thanks Bronwyn!
I have a small confession to make.
I tear pages out of magazines in waiting rooms. And it’s not because they are articles about how to look 30 when you’re 55 or the latest on Angelina or even 101 recipes with quinoa.
I rip out advertisements about continence pads for ‘Light Bladder Leakage’ or ‘LBL’!
You know the ones: ‘It’s okay women – leaking is fine – just wear a pad’. And the models in these ads have been getting younger and sexier - no longer is it only the ‘senior’ looking lady! Now it’s younger women in tight dresses. Disclaimer: I have nothing against continence aids. It’s the normalisation of incontinence that makes my blood pressure rise.
Have you noticed how subtly in the feminine hygiene aisles at the supermarkets, products progress from tampons and menstrual pads to continence pads? LBL is being used to normalise a very real problem.
Here is my advertisement: leaking urine is never fine, never okay, never normal. It is a sign that something is not quite working to its full potential in the pelvic area of the body. That wonderful hidden part that contributes so much to our quality of life. It is often a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction.
As a physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic health, I care a great deal about those bits ‘down there’ and their impact on women’s health.
How should a normal bladder behave?
Well we should have the ability to control the functions of our bladder and bowel throughout all stages of life. This is continence. Incontinence is any loss of bladder and bowel control, irrespective of amount or frequency.
Here is a breakdown of the facts: normal bladders should hold approximately 500 mls. Each emptying of the bladder is 350-700 mls of urine. We wee four to seven times a day and may wake to go once at night.
Going to the toilet should not be urgent – rushing off, feeling you can’t hold on – nor frequent (going to the toilet more often than outlined above). The bladder should fully empty with a strong, continuous stream and no strain. And there should no urinary leakage. Yes, that’s right, you should be able to jump on the trampoline with the kids!
Your bladder should be functioning efficiently in the background. So if you have read the above paragraph and can’t recognise your bladder, you may have a problem.
What should you do?
Well consulting with a physiotherapist experienced in pelvic health is a great starting point. This involves detailed history taking and assessment of what exactly is happening for you. Treatment is based on your individual needs and may take three to four appointments over several months. And there is good research to prove it works!
Now, while I’m not advocating carte blanche magazine destruction I am suggesting that next time you are in a waiting room, spend some time thinking about your bits ‘down there’.
About the Author
Bronwyn Jest is a physiotherapist with a special interest in Women's, Men's and Pelvic Health.
Bronwyn has a positive approach to pelvic health concerns and is passionate about getting the message out that these issues can be treated effectively and people should not have to suffer in silence.
She provides management for bladder issues: stress and urgency incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, bowel issues: constipation, urgency and incontinence ,sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain, guidance for pelvic floor safe exercising, problems during pregnancy and after childbirth, advice before and rehabilitation after gynaecological and other pelvic surgery including for the bowel.Bronwyn works in her own private practice at Chermside - www.bronwynjestphysiotherapy.com.au
When not working, she enjoys exercising, reading, music, admiring (and collecting!) pottery, swimming at the beach and spending time with her husband Martin and three adult offspring.
Squats are a movement for life. We have opportunities to use them in everyday activities and are vital to remaining active as we age. My love affair with the humble squat started during my recovery from prolapse surgery. I was still having incontinence issues and didn't see any significant improvement until I got my squat technique right. I was hooked.
Here are the main physiological reasons why squats are a MUST DO exercise.
Check back this week or join our closed group on Facebook for more tips on tuning your squat technique.
Ok, I know we just had our hottest day on record, ever, but sometimes salad just doesn't cut it.
This curry is a hit in our house. It has the sweet aromatic flavours the kids love and is fast and full of veggies to satisfy mum.
Precut your veggies on the weekend to get this on the table in under 30mins. You can substitute rice for cauliflower rice if preferred.
2 Tablespoons of red curry paste
400g can of coconut milk
250g pumpkin, small cubes
400g can brown lentils, washed and drained
1.5 cups of frozen peas
1 small head of cauliflower. Cut into small florets.
At Go Mum! we are constantly learning and seeking out the best women's health advice and local practitioners. In this blog you will find articles from women's health practitioners that are passionate and experienced in their fields. We hope you enjoy the blog and encourage you to support these local businesses.