Blog

Welcome to OptiMum.

Women's Health

Welcome to OptiMum.

abdonial scar

Abdominal Scars

Is your pain linked to your scar?

Have you ever considered that your scar may have affected your body further away from your scar site?
Fascia (the connective tissue that creates a 3 dimension web from head to toe) is all interconnected, like a thread in your jumper. A tightening in one area of the body creates tension throughout this web pulling on distant structures. This could be why some people have pain that appears unrelated to their original injury.
I can’t wait to be allowed to restart with soft tissue therapy once again, and help women with all that I have learnt through my Scar immersion course with @burrell_education.
peri menopause

The peri-menopause

Our body goes through big changes in the peri-menopause and our hormones really affect how we feel. Our lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on how we feel through this period. We are going to take a look at one hormone in particular.
hGH ( human growth hormone) is known as the hormone of youthfulness.
The secretion of growth hormone (hGH) by the pituitary gland progressively declines beginning in early adult life, a phenomenon which is termed “the somatopause”
⠀⠀
It is produced by the Pituitary Glands, and has a pivotal role in fat metabolism, growth of all tissues, energy level, tissue repair, whole body healing, cell replacement, bone strength, brain function, sexual function, organ health, integrity, enzyme production, integrity of hair, nails, skin and vital organs
So what can we do to improve/ increase our hHG in midlife?
*Sleep better and include more restoration activities
*Drink more water/ stay hydrated⠀
*Eat more protein and less of the high carbohydrate diets
*The ‘right type’ of exercise. Workouts need to raise your body temperature ( to produce a hormone release), get you out of breath ( we need to get into oxygen debt to trigger a hGH release) and you need to feel the ‘burn’. A 2003 study published in the British Journal Sports Medicine found that “exercise intensity above lactate threshold (when you ‘feel the burn’) and for a minimum of 10 minutes appears to elicit the greatest stimulus to the secretion of hGH.” So working out for 20-30 minutes and meeting these markers will give you the best chance of stimulating a hGH response.
Do you think you can get in 20-30 minute workouts 3-5 times a week?
menopause

The Menopause

How much do you know about the menopause apart from all the negative associations that we hear about? It’s something that all of us women (fingers crossed) will live long enough to go through.
The Menopause itself is when you haven’t had a period for one year, so it’s just that one day really. Not too bad.
The period we don’t often hear about is the peri-menopause where all the changes are starting to take place. The slowing down of the ovaries working, the transition period before the menopause where hormone production decreases.
For many this can start around our mid 40s, for some earlier/later. You still have periods but they may start to become irregular or lighter/heavier than you are used to.
The average age for going through the menopause is 51, so that’s a fair few years right there of hormones shifting and possible symptoms.
The great news is there is so much we can do to help with this period in our lives and I will be posting some useful tips that have been known to help.
Is this a period in your life you have thought much about?
pelvis image

Over-active Pelvic floor muscles.

We are often told to do our kegels (pelvic floor squeezes) to keep our pelvic floor strong, and prevent leaking, particularly after children. But what if doing your pelvic floor exercises are making your symptoms worse?
If you have tight over-active pelvic floor muscles (hypertonic) you may actually need to be doing more released based work for those muscles.
Some symptoms you may get with over-active PF muscles:⠀⠀⠀
*Constipation
*Pelvic pain
*Painful inserting tampons
*low back pain
*Painful sex
*Urinary incontinence
*Incomplete emptying of the bladder
*incomplete emptying of the bowels
*Hip pain
Stress can also aggravate symptoms
If you recognise any of these in yourself and your pelvic floor exercises don’t seem to be helping, I would always suggest either going to your GP or visiting a women’s health physio. There is so much that can be done to help.
Breathe work and relaxation are really important. Visualisations and stretches that encourage your pelvic floor to let go. Cat/ cow is a great one to start with.
Prolapse image

Prolapse.

What is it?
A pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is when 1 or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. Most common are the bladder( cystocele), womb (uterine) and bowel (rectocele).
The pelvic floor and connective tissue work to support these organs, which is why pelvic floor exercises are important!

What can cause a prolapse?

Pregnancy and childbirth, menopausal changes, constipation, being overweight, a bad cough, genetics, lifestyle, pelvic injury and age can influence your chances of getting a prolapse.⠀⠀⠀⠀
There are different levels of prolapse, meaning some women won’t even know they have one and others who might need significant support.

It’s not often talked about as there is so much embarrassment felt around it, but we need to start the conversations and support each other.

What are the symptoms?

* A feeling of heaviness around your lower tummy and genitals
* A dragging discomfort inside your vagina
*Feeling like there’s something coming down into your vagina – it may feel like sitting on a small ball⠀⠀⠀⠀
*Feeling or seeing a bulge or lump in or coming out of your vagina
*Discomfort or numbness during sex
*Problems peeing – such as feeling like your bladder is not emptying fully, needing to go to the toilet more often, or leaking a small amount of pee when you cough, sneeze or exercise (stress incontinence)

osteoporosis

The peri/menopause and Osteoporosis

We all hear how important it is to look after our bones as we enter midlife and beyond. ⠀⠀
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones and makes them break more easily, sometimes without taking much to do so.
Bone is living tissue that regenerates throughout our lives and up to 30yrs of age we generally build more tissue that we lose. After this point our bone tissue naturally starts to decrease. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
As women we lose about 10% of our bone mass within the first 5 years of menopause, most probably caused by the drop in Estrogen.
What can we do to help?
Exercise can play a huge part in helping your bones to get stronger. As bone is a living tissue it responds well to an increase in force and load.
*Weight bearing exercise is fab, this includes but isn’t limited to brisk walking, jogging, dancing, aerobics, badminton and tennis.
*Strength exercises are also good because your muscles pull on your bones boosting bone strength. You could try some weight/ resistance workouts, yoga, pilates or body weight exercises like press ups/ lunges etc.
This is why I love teaching my Heat® class, as it covers all the bases here, as well as the added benefits of boosting cardiovascular health (which I will do another post on), whilst being mindful of the pelvic floor!
Going through midlife should be an empowering time and being informed can help you make the right choices for you.

 

.

Self care or Selfish- A mother’s dilemma

 

I’m sure you have seen the term self- care being used quite often at the moment. It seems to be something that many of us are obviously missing out on, to be reminded that we need it in our lives. I feel a pang of sadness that we now have to use a special term to remind each other that we need to look after ourselves.

I also feel as a mother, or just because of my nature, I’m not entirely sure, that there is a fuzzy line between self-care and selfish. A battle I face regularly when trying to establish whether what I am doing as ‘self care’ is actually having a negative impact on others.

This all come to mind after returning from one night away with my husband (the first in years), where our children didn’t come with us. We went to a spa and it was so important that we did go for our health (mental and physical) and for our relationship. It’s been tough few months. It was wonderful and I started to properly exhale and allow my shoulders to drop, something that doesn’t happen when I am being mum.

My wonderful mother was looking after the children and they had a lovely time with her, but I still felt guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t with them and that they would miss us terribly (they did a little but they were busy too). Guilt that I shouldn’t be leaving my children, as, we are their security, and I want them to always feel safe in the knowledge that we are there for them. Guilt because I can still tap in to that feeling I had when my parents ever went away (which was very rare!!) And.…guilt that I am working so much at the moment that when I have time, I should be spending it with them.

This got me thinking, that although the trip was self-care and necessary, perhaps I was now putting my needs above my children’s, and that’s something within me that just doesn’t sit right.

I know, and can totally see the value in parents feeling great and therefor being better parents, so it is inevitably a win-win. I also know that if one of us were with them, the guilt is not so strong. It’s in trying to switch off the instinctive ‘I should be there for my children at all times’ that I struggle with. I know I am not alone in feeling like this and wonder how others tackle the mum guilts?

 

How do you fair in the self- care/ selfish mind set? Do you suffer with the mum guilt’s or do you truly allow yourself to enjoy the moments when you get them? Or do you not even take those moments because you can’t or it doesn’t feel right?

 

‘Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’ Maya Angelou

This week I am focusing mostly on mental health. Having been in the pits of despair with post natal depression I have a little insight into how one can go from feeling very much themselves, to utterly lost.
Lack of sleep, children pushing boundaries, babies getting sick, being responsible for others as well as yourselves can feel so overwhelming.
As your children get older we tend to think we should be finding it easier, but for some it isn’t.
Exercise can make such a big difference to helping you feel better, it was for me and I will be posting exercise suggestions soon.
If you feel that a friend of yours maybe isn’t quite themselves but might be too embarrassed to say they are struggling, how about doing a little something for them. Sending them a text, putting a card through their door ( or a little bar of dark chocolate) or offering to pick up their children from school. It doesn’t have to be huge, just a gesture that can boost those serotonin levels for them.
Be a rainbow.

Mood boosting exercise

Focusing on our mental health this week and ways in which we can help to feel better in our own heads.

Exercise and movement is a wonderful way for our brains to release those endorphins and give us a happy boost. When you are in the depths of feeling low, getting up and jumping on the trampoline probably isn’t the first thing you want to do. So why not start off with a walk, the mixture of fresh air, movement and a change of scenery can do wonders. 
Putting on your favourite music and dancing is also a fab mood booster, it is very hard to not feel happier when you dance. Lifting your gaze and opening up your body also helps. If things are getting a little too fraught in our house we often put on some music and have a little dance. The children love it too.

Trampolining is also super fun, although your pelvic floor needs to be strong and functioning well for you to do this. ( get in touch if you feel you could do with some help here).
I can’t help but smile when on the trampoline, i’m not sure whether it’s the motion or the fact I am taken back to feeling like a care free child!

Whatever way you like to move, choose that. The biggest hurdle is taking that first step and once you have, you will be so pleased you did.

paper clip

🤔The price of our Health.

 
So I got sent this link the other day, and yes it is real. It led to a big discussion with a physio and we were curious as to what drives some women to spend their money without question on luxuries/ necessities, but not always on their health. For example I know many women ( myself included) who don’t bat an eye lid paying ££ for a haircut and colour, having their nails done, eyebrows/eyelashes done, using mobile phones and going for a coffee and cake without questioning the cost. I’m sure these women won’t be spending £155 on a paperclip but…..Some wouldn’t hesitate to spend a few pounds on new shoes ( trainers for me) , going out for a tasty meal, a sneaky bottle of wine or paying for a number of clubs and events for their children to attend. Of course this is a big generalisation but I hope you get my drift. What is it then, that makes women hesitate to spend on their health?
 
It is common that women will suffer with a health issue for a while ( I’m sure I heard it can be around 7 years recently) before seeking help!
Surely without our health nothing else matters? Finding a well educated fitness/ health professional who has knowledge that will help you to feel better in yourself has no price?
 
Do you ever hesitate at spending on your health?