So you have some pelvic floor concerns, but you still want to maintain your active lifestyle? What’s normal and not normal when it comes to Pelvic Floor issues. Here are some of the common questions our Women’s Health Physiotherapist hears from many women. You are not alone!
“I want to exercise but I’m scared I’ll wet my pants”
“I just wear a pad during exercising. Isn’t this normal?”
“I’ve just had a baby and don’t know which exercises are safe for me”
“When I exercise, I feel a heavy and dragging sensation”
Many women don’t cope well with strenuous exercise (running, sit-ups, jumping and aerobic classes or even just jumping on a trampoline) and may experience some degree of incontinence. They think this is the “norm” especially if they have had a few pregnancies, wear a pad while exercising and do nothing about it. This is not OK. The bladder weakness will continue to be aggravated through inappropriate exercise and the risk of prolapse increases.
Seeking an assessment, advice, education and support by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist on how to correctly activate your pelvic floor muscles and gradually strengthening these muscles will definitely help.
What exactly is the pelvic floor?
The Pelvic floor is a structure made up of muscles, ligaments and fascia that attaches from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis, down and under to the coccyx (tailbone). The pelvic floor can be thought of as a hammock or sling that supports our internal pelvic organs (the bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina). (see below image)
Image Source: continence.org
Why is the role of the pelvic floor?
– Maintain continence, it helps to controls the passage of solids, liquids and gases
– Stability of the “core” to support the spine and pelvic joints
– Supports the pelvic organs and holds them “up”
– Sexual function and sensation
What to watch out for during or after exercising:
· Loss of urine (stress urinary incontinence)
· “dragging” of “heavy” sensation within the perineum
· “feels like something is coming down”
This is your body’s way of telling you that you are not strong enough in the pelvic floor muscles yet to return to that exercise or that you have done too much. You need to listen to your body as continuation will make the problem worse and may lead to prolapse. When it comes to prolapse, prevention is far better than a cure.
What can I do?
· Book and appointment to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for specific pelvic floor activation and retraining. At Thrive Health Co. we can assess your pelvic floor strength with an internal examination and see your pelvic floor and deep abdominals in action via diagnostic ultrasound machine. Many people respond well with this feedback on the screen.
· Your pelvic floor exercises will be progressed through lying, sitting and standing and then into more functional positions to your sport eg stride stance, squat.
· When you are strong enough in the pelvic floor muscles, your Physiotherapist will progress you to activating your pelvic floor during high-impact training that involves jumping, landing and running.
· In the meantime it is vital that you change to lower-impact exercises only
· Do not limit fluid intake or empty the bladder too frequently to try to prevent urine loss. This can lead to a over sensitive bladder and UTI’s.
· Avoid abdominal curls and heavy weights. You should not breath-hold while lifting weights.
· Focus on core control during exercises – can you hold your pelvic floor while performing a movement?
It’s never too late to have your pelvic floor muscles checked and learn how to correctly activate them. It is much better to prevent the problem of incontinence or prolapse.