Sam Heughan plays Jamie Fraser in Outlander (SBS)
Am I just shamelessly cashing in on the pulling power of Jamie Fraser or do I really have a relevant message here for all you ladies (and sometimes men)? I promise you this is an important message and I know no one better qualified than Jamie (who cares what his real name is?) to teach us about the importance of letting your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles relax during the day….. many, many times through the day.
Now Jamie has some serious abs (see explanatory photo below) and lets face it, it may be the dream of a few women and probs plenty of men to have a six pack like he has.
Jamie Fraser from Outlander (SBS)
Can there seriously be a drawback to having a rock hard belly? Can there seriously be a problem to having incredibly strong pelvic floor muscles? Surely that’s a win – win situation? Society has indoctrinated women to always sit with their legs crossed (so no one can look inappropriately up their dresses). This goes back centuries and is still the norm for women to sit tall and cross their legs sometimes wrapping them tightly around their calf.
Society (particularly women’s magazines) also always promotes women to strongly pull in their tummy – having a ‘flat tummy’ is the essential look – well if you peruse the Myer swimsuit catalogue or check out the female body builders at a competition at least.
Francine Abbott at her first body building competition
But if you do this all day and all night when you are out in a slinky little short dress, then for sure you will rarely be relaxing your abs or pelvic floor and this can lead to pelvic pain and sometimes an overactive pelvic floor for some women and men. This can result in dyspareunia (painful intercourse), incomplete urinary voiding, defaecation difficulties (incomplete evacuation, pelvic floor dyssynergia) and for men sometimes penile and testicular pain and erectile dysfunction. Sometimes it is wrongly diagnosed as prostatitis. This chronic tension in these muscles not only causes pain but can cause the muscles to fatigue and not be as effective when you actually may need them, such as recruiting them to lift a heavy box or prior to a cough or sneeze to prevent leakage of urine, gas or faeces.
So when looking for the ideal picture to demonstrate this posture that I encourage patients to adopt: “Sit like a man” who should I find but Jamie (well a photo of him ‘in real life’ Sam Heughan) sitting perfectly – legs apart therefore inner thighs relaxed, belly relaxed and I’m assuming pelvic floor relaxed. Thank you Jamie xx
So my message to everyone is:
Balance all engagement of the tummy and pelvic floor with plenty of relaxation
If you actually do have pelvic pain, or a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder or bowel or painful intercourse or if you are a guy – a diagnosis of prostatitis from your GP, or erectile dysfunction or penile or testicular pain – try this exercise of just letting go with your abs and pelvic floor regularly; sit slumped rather than bolt upright (which ‘engages your core’); sit with your legs apart and adductors (inner thighs) relaxed; do some tummy breathing (as you breathe in your tummy rises up under your hand and as you breathe out it drops away, keep the breathing gentle and slow) and see the difference this makes.
And you girls out there who love Outlander can thank me for your early Christmas present!