In today’s blog we discuss a topic that is often overlooked or not perceived by people as something that can be improved; that is the pelvic floor. Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (1). Additionally, 1 in 5 women suffer from pelvic organ prolapse which is descent of the Pelvic organs from their original place.
Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick understand the importance of having a proper functioning pelvic floor, so keep reading to learn more about what the pelvic floor is, common symptoms to look out for and what you can do if you are experiencing symptoms or want to find out more about your pelvic floor.
What is the function of the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is the layer of muscles that span the bottom of the pelvis. The muscles stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone to the tail bone and from side to side.
The purpose of these muscles is to:
- Help control the pressure inside the abdomen to deal with the pushing down force when you lift or strain – such as during exercise.
- In men: support the bladder and bowel
- In women: support the bladder, bowel and uterus
- Allow control over the bladder and bowel so you can control the release of urine, faeces and flatus and delay emptying until it is convenient.
- Play an important role in sexual sensation and function.
Symptoms of a pelvic floor problem
- Leaking with running, jumping, lifting, laughing, coughing or sneezing
- Needing to go to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
- Constantly needing to go to the toilet
- Finding it hard to empty your bladder or bowel (chronic constipation)
- Losing control of your bladder or bowel
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Prolapse (the feeling of dragging, heaviness or bulging in the vaginal region)
Common problems with pelvic floor muscles and what can you do about it?
The pelvic floor muscles can become too loose or weak, and they can also become too tight and not relax properly. Common reasons for the pelvic floor muscles becoming weak is childbirth, surgery for prostate cancer or hysterectomy, heavy lifting, high impact sports, increasing age, being overweight, chronic constipation or a lack of regular exercise.
Pelvic floor muscles need to be flexible and strong to work as part of the ‘core’. That simply means that they need to be able to relax as well as lift and hold. It is important for people to brace their ‘core’ muscles during exercise to support the spine, but constant bracing can lead to the muscles becoming excessively tight and stiff (2).
Exercises can help to prevent pelvic floor problems as well as correct pelvic floor weakness or tightness. A physiotherapist who specialises in the pelvic floor can do a thorough assessment and identify any issues to help you effectively treat them so that you can stay in control of your symptoms, remain active and exercise effectively.
Longevity Exercise Physiology have partnered with Sydney Physio Solutions, Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Shanice Gabriel to ensure all of our clients are exercising effectively and with the correct cues specific for their pelvic floor. Shanice is an expert in the area and can diagnose and treat a variety of issues such as incontinence, prolapse, painful intercourse, or chronic constipation. What’s even better is that all of Longevity’s clients are entitled to 50% off their first physio treatment with Shanice Gabriel located at the Macquarie Street Clinic.
You can find more information about Sydney Physio Solutions here.
If this is something you have been putting off, then now is the time to get in contact with the team at Longevity on 1300 964 002 and find out more information.
Written by Courtney Maher