“Pelvic Floor…that thing women do post pregnancy to avoid peeing their pants..”
After completing my undergraduate degree in exercise science my knowledge of the pelvic floor was just that. It wasn’t until entering the world of Clinical Pilates that I began to understand fully the power of the pelvic floor. Looking back now, I laugh at how poor my understanding was to the point that I was bearing down on the muscles of the pelvic floor when I thought I was activating, that is the exact opposite action of what was desired!! My journey of pelvic floor discovery had begun. How could I have been getting it so wrong? I was young, relatively fit and healthy and hadn’t even thought about having babies yet… Why was my pelvic floor not working correctly??
What is the Pelvic Floor?
It works best if we start from the beginning. An understanding of the muscle and its actions is fundamental to improve Pelvic Floor function. The Pelvic Floor is group of muscles attached to the pelvis, forming the base of the core, and the picture below describes a thousand words…
During my research I stumbled across this YouTube video titled “CrossFit – Do you pee when you workout?”
Fantastic that these women are not afraid or embarrassed to workout with their incontinence problem, however, exercise or stress induced urinary incontinence is a real issue that many women and men face, and it is not OK! Episodes of incontinence during exercise is a sign of a problem that can potentially worsen and seriously affect quality of life in future years if not addressed. These incontinent episodes during exercise are NOT a representation of a hard-core workout!
What can contribute to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
- Heavy Resistance Training / Lifting
- Constipation/Straining on the toilet
- Chronic Cough
- Prostate Problem
- Organ Prolapse
- Lower Back Pain
- Trauma or Injury to the pelvic region
What is Exercise / Stress Urinary Incontinence?
Exercise induced, also known as stress induced, urinary incontinence is when a small amount of urine is leaked during certain activities. Commonly leakage is caused by a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles inhibiting its ability to counteract increased pressures on the bladder and urethra. Activities causing increased intra-abdominal pressure and commonly trigger episodes of incontinence include coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping and heavy lifting.
“Leaking should never be considered normal, nor should it be accepted as inevitable post childbirth or with ageing. The majority of incontinence issues can be prevented and resolved!” – Continence Foundation of Australia (2018)
What is the Pelvic Floor good for?
The pelvic floor is amazing and something we ALL should be aware of for many different reasons. The muscles have a number of different roles in daily functions, some you may not have realised…
- It holds the entire abdominal contents in
- It plays a role in maintaining continence of both bladder and bowel
- It supports and promotes lumbopelvic stability
- It can reduce lower back pain
- It plays an important role in sexual function
How can I improve my Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a muscle and just like any other muscle, there are exercises that can help to increase the strength and function of this muscle, likely to improve and resolve incontinence issues.
The first step is to have your Pelvic Floor muscles activation assessed by a professional. If there is a presence of dysfunction with pelvic floor muscle activation, strength or endurance, an individualised exercise program can be created to address findings. In a minority of cases it may be necessary for a specialist to conduct further assessments should problems persist – Your physiotherapist will guide you through this process if required.
Exercise / Stress Urinary Incontinence is a common problem that can be treated! If this post has resonated with you or someone you may know, please reach out and get in contact with us at Northwest Physiotherapy Group. We can provide you with information, treatment and strategies to help resolve this embarrassing issue. No more fear and anxiety, pelvic floor strength programs will have you back living life to its fullest, with confidence!!