As the winter chill sets in, you may have noticed changes in your pelvic health symptoms. It's not just in your head; the cold weather can indeed have a significant impact on your pelvic well-being. In this first part of our Winter Pelvic Health series, let's delve into the physiological reasons behind these changes and explore practical tips to keep your pelvic floor happy during the colder months.
5 Things Happen When It Gets Cold:
Blood Vessel Constriction
When temperatures drop, your body employs a natural mechanism to conserve warmth. Blood is redirected away from the skin and extremities, focusing on delivering warmth to your core. This process, known as vasoconstriction, triggers your kidneys to work harder to eliminate waste from your body—a phenomenon termed "cold diuresis." The increased blood volume filtered by your kidneys leads to more frequent urination, a common winter woe.
Decreased Sweat Production
In the colder months, the body tends to produce less sweat as a means of adapting to lower temperatures. Despite the reduced need for sweating to cool the body, fluid elimination remains a vital process. This can result in an accumulation of excess fluid in the bladder, triggering the sensation and urgency to urinate.
Winter poses unique challenges to staying adequately hydrated as the colder temperatures can dampen our natural thirst cues. The decreased perception of thirst, coupled with a preference for warm beverages like coffee and tea, often leads to insufficient water intake. Additionally, the diuretic effects of caffeinated drinks and the reduced visibility of sweat during colder months can contribute to a deceptive sense of hydration. The lack of apparent dehydration signs may result in overlooking the body's actual need for fluids, leading to concentrated urine, potentially irritating the bladder, and intensifying the feeling of urgency.
Cold temperatures tend to induce muscular tension. As the body instinctively tightens muscles to generate warmth, the pelvic region, including the muscles surrounding the bladder, may experience increased tension. This heightened muscle tension can contribute to bladder overactivity, leading to discomfort and disruptions in normal urinary patterns. As a result, individuals may find themselves grappling with an increased urgency to urinate, emphasising the interconnectedness of muscle tension in the cold and its impact on bladder function.
Pelvic Floor Response
The pelvic floor muscles, like any other skeletal muscles, exhibit a distinctive response to cold temperatures. When exposed to chilly weather, these muscles experience a reduction in blood flow, causing a decrease in responsiveness to signals from the nervous system. This physiological reaction to the cold can impede the coordination, strength, and speed of the pelvic floor muscles. As blood flow slows, the pelvic floor muscles become less reactive, potentially affecting their overall function and leading to issues with continence.
5 Top Tips for Winter Pelvic Health:
Keep Warm and Cosy
Ensure your feet, hips, and bits are wrapped up and warm! Don’t even think about sitting on that cold bench in just leggings 😉 Consider investing in thermal layers and using heated blankets or cushions when sitting for extended periods. By prioritizing warmth, you not only promote comfort but also support optimal muscle function in the pelvic area.
Do a Few Quick Kegels to Increase Blood Flow
Engaging in quick Kegel exercises serves as an excellent strategy to boost blood flow to the pelvic floor muscles. This is like opening and closing your hands when they become stiff from the cold. These exercises, which involve contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, help improve circulation, alleviate tension, and enhance muscle responsiveness. Performing Kegels regularly, especially in response to the cold-induced stiffness, contributes to maintaining pelvic floor health and supporting continence.
Relax and Unclench the Pelvic Floor
Combatting muscle tension around the pelvic floor involves adopting a holistic approach to relaxation. In addition to consciously relaxing the pelvic floor, focusing on overall posture is essential. Dropping your shoulders, walking with a natural arm swing and relaxing the jaw helps release tension throughout the body, including the pelvic region. This integrated relaxation approach contributes to better overall pelvic health and minimizes the impact of cold-induced muscle tightness.
Stay Hydrated with Non-Irritating Fluids
Hydration is key to pelvic health, even in winter. While the colder weather may diminish the desire for cold beverages, opting for hot water and herbal teas not only keeps you warm but also contributes to your fluid intake. Staying hydrated with non-irritating fluids helps prevent concentrated urine, reducing the risk of bladder irritation and urgency. Herbal teas that are naturally decaffeinated offer a soothing and hydrating alternative, adding an extra layer of warmth during the winter months.
Maintain Good Pelvic Floor Strength
Ensuring robust pelvic floor strength is fundamental for winter pelvic health. Beyond routine Kegel exercises, consider incorporating lower body strength training into your fitness routine. Exercises like squats and lunges support overall muscle tone and strength in the pelvic region. Alternatively, sitting on an Emsella chair, a non-invasive device designed to stimulate and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, can be a beneficial addition to your pelvic health regimen. Maintaining pelvic floor strength enhances muscle coordination, resilience, and overall function, providing a proactive approach to winter wellness. Find out more about how Emsella could help you here.
Understanding the physiological changes in your body during winter allows you to take proactive steps to support your pelvic health. By staying warm, incorporating pelvic-friendly exercises, and adopting mindful habits, you can navigate the winter season with confidence and maintain a happy and healthy pelvic floor. Stay tuned for more tips in Part 2 of our Winter Pelvic Health series!