In Pilates classes we give a lot of emphasis to using the pelvic floor muscles throughout all the exercises but I wanted to use this post to look a bit more specifically at some of the precursors to pelvic floor problems & signs you may be at risk or already have issues.
There are specific signs to look out for which can indicate that you may have a pelvic floor problem – these are all suboptimal issues that you do not have to live with, a trip to the women’s health physio (or men’s) will help get you on the road to recovery just like any other muscle injury. I’ll stress again, these are not just conditions of age or things that ‘just happen’ – you can do something about it, just because something is common does not mean it’s normal.
- Peeing when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
- Needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
- Loss of control over your bladder or bowel
- Accidentally passing wind
- A prolapse – in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping. In men, this may be felt as a bulge in the rectum or a feeling of needing to use their bowels but not actually needing to go
- Pain in your pelvic area, or painful sex
- Being pregnant & childbirth
The pelvic floor is just like any other muscle so if it’s too tight or too weak or a combination problems can occur but there are certain events in life & lifestyle factors that can contribute to creating imbalances or dysfunction. Some people have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight (hypertonic) & cannot relax. This can be made worse by doing squeezing exercises & overworking the muscles without learning how to relax – this is why I always try to give time in the class to focus on actually relaxing & releasing the abdominals & pelvic floor.
The main precursors for pelvic floor problems will involve any type of unmanaged pressure within the abdominal canister or where there is poor load transfer .
- History of back pain
- Ongoing constipation & straining on the loo
- Being overweight with a BMI over 25
- Incorrect heavy lifting e.g using the Valsava maneover
- Chronic cough or sneeze
- Previous pelvic injury
- Poor alignment
- Wearing high heels
With the right technique & exercise selection, Pilates is a great choice to help strengthen the pelvic floor – at any age, whether you’ve just had a baby or your babies are having babies!