Is Your Pelvic Floor Ready For Exercise?
Have you ever jumped on a trampoline, or taken a run only to realize later that you leaked?
You may be one of the 25 million people in the US that deal with urinary incontinence due to dysfunctions in the pelvic floor muscles.
What is the pelvic floor?
It is a group of muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis that support internal organs, including the bladder, and maintain continence both fecal and urinary. When these muscles work well, continence is maintained, and there is no pain present with activity or with going to the bathroom. When these muscles are no longer functioning well, the result is incontinence or pain- this may be present with coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping.
Pelvic floor dysfunction has become so common, that many women simply consider leakage a natural part of childbirth.
They may refrain from activities they once loved such as running, heavy lifting or other forms of high impact exercise. Others may hesitate to start new exercise programs as they are concerned that they may leak, or may have feelings of heaviness in there bladder, or may be concerned that they are damaging themselves. It is important to differentiate that these symptoms are very common, not normal.
What can be done about this issue?
Pelvic floor exercise can be quite helpful, but how often and the positions they should be done in depends on the individual. Some pelvic floors are very weak, necessitating laying down while exercising them and slowly progressing to upright positions. Some pelvic floors are too tight and those individuals should not do kegels until that has resolved.
But for someone who only leaks with exercise, try this. Take a deep breath in, and slowly breath out. Pay attention to what your pelvic floor is doing when you breathe in and out. When does it contract? When does it relax? Try to work on contracting your pelvic floor when you breathe out and relaxing your pelvic floor when you breathe in.
Why is this pattern so important? When you cough or sneeze, you are forcefully breathing out. You want your pelvic floor to automatically contract during those activities, so you don’t leak. Also, when exercising, you should be breathing out during the most difficult part of your exercise. For example, when you are lifting weights, the most difficult part of the exercise is during the actual lift. You should be breathing out while lifting the weight. You should also be contracting your pelvic floor muscles at this time.
Many people have questions about the function of their pelvic floor. Feel free to contact me, I love questions!
Katy offers free 20 minute discovery sessions at her office in Lee’s Summit, Missouri for those who have more detailed questions about pelvic floor physical therapy. Get in contact with her here.