May the floor be with you!
Personal trainer (and former chef) Ian Eassom shares his tips on staying fit and healthy, with the occasional treat…
This month is quite a milestone article for me: one year since I began writing for Lincolnshire Life! I hope you have found my exercises and recipes useful, rewarding and challenging. It is also important for reasons more personal.
You may recall that last year I wrote an article on men’s health, specifically prostate care. Two months ago I had a radical prostatectomy following a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Thankfully it was caught very early. I am happy to say everything went well with my surgery in February and I have been on the road to recovery ever since. I even managed to log onto my virtual choir in the evening after waking up from my operation! I made sure not to attempt the big notes, more for the sake of the other patients. It is a long road to full recovery after any operation of that scale, so I thought it might be helpful to share my tips on getting back to normal.
Also I thought it was a timely moment to talk about the importance of looking after your pelvic floor, which is something that has huge benefits regardless of gender. The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus and bowel. We often associate pelvic floor problems with being post-childbirth issues, but there are all sorts of reasons we may need to strengthen it, including obesity, persistent coughing, constipation and prostate problems. As we get older, our pelvic floor can weaken, which can cause us all sorts of issues with personal things like maintaining continence. Women have a single muscle doing all the work here, which is why getting older leaves you more prone to the odd incident. Men have three such muscles, which is why they can typically go longer between bathroom breaks, but when men have had their prostate removed (as in my case) two of these muscles are removed also, meaning they keep the same single bladder control muscle as women.
Starting with some basic Kegels
You may have heard of Kegel exercises before. These exercises can be done laying down, sitting or standing (and no one need know you are doing them!).
Before you start, direct your attention to your pelvic floor muscles while relaxing your abdominal muscles. Without holding your breath, gradually lift and squeeze the pelvic floor as if you are stopping the flow of urine. Squeeze slowly and hold for 5-10 seconds while breathing normally and then release slowly, repeating 10 times.
After these slow exercises, perform 10 quick short strong squeezes, without the holding part in between. These exercises take some practice; there is plenty of information on the web or you can get advice from your doctor or physiotherapist if you have one.
The following five exercises will help you further strengthen the pelvic floor, but also add strength and flexibility to other areas of your body as well. These can be done once every day or even just three times a week, but the more you put into these exercises, the quicker and better the results will be. Each exercise can be done in reps and/or held for 5-20 seconds depending on your level of fitness.
This exercise can reduce knee, back pain and menstrual discomfort, and boost your booty, strengthening your core to improve balance and posture. It can also improve your running performance as well as stimulating your abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid.
Lie on your back with your knees raised and feet flat, then exhale and lift your bum up from the floor, keeping your hips and feet parallel. Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulder to knees. Hold for at least five seconds and then repeat for the desired number of reps.
This exercise improves stability and encourages a neutral spine, so it’s good for relieving backpain, as well as strengthening the core and the hips. It is also good for increasing your range of motion.
Keeping your back straight, shoulders back and moving simultaneously, straighten and raise your left leg and right arm, keeping your pelvis in a neutral position, before repeating on opposite sides.
This works your abs, shoulders, back, chest, triceps, glutes, thighs and calves, and that’s without having to do much moving! Facing the floor, push yourself up on your elbows and forearms, keeping your back as straight as possible and your knees off the floor. This one doesn’t need to be done in reps, but you can try staying in this position for up to two minutes.
Hip Thrust Table Top
The benefits of this pose are that it provides a deep stretch to the upper body, including your shoulders, chest, abdomen and spine, and will build strength throughout all the core muscles. It’s also great for balance and posture, as well as the pelvic floor.
This is an isometric exercise that works your legs, back, abs and glutes by having the muscles remain under tension. Great to develop strength, but also your muscular endurance.
Stand against the wall, feet hip-width apart and exhale, engaging your pelvic floor and lower yourself into a squat, as if sitting back in a chair. Hold for as long as you can, aiming for two minutes.
If you are struggling with pelvic floor issues, such as continence, it is worth knowing that caffeine and alcohol can both agitate the bladder and make such issues worse. It is important to eat sensibly and if you are convalescing, to look after yourself via diet to continue the good work you were doing before any surgery. You can maintain your energy levels with exercise and also a balanced diet, keeping your weight in the healthy range. Here’s an idea for a quick, nutritious meal to get you on the right track!
Ian Eassom is a Lincoln-based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private online one-to-one sessions,with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. Ian can also offer individual training sessions in your own garden or public space, subject to and in adherence with the latest lockdown/tier system guidance and with social distancing in place. Don’t forget there’s a special offer for Lincolnshire Life readers! For the latest information, visit www.ianeassom.co.uk