I have heard many conversations lately (both in person and
online) about bladder leakage. Everyone seems to be peeing
a little bit when they lift, run, or laugh.
It's joked about with new moms, athletes, and menopausal
women like it is inevitable. The issue is no joke! It's a
problem with the pelvic floor muscles and that is NOT
Your pelvic floor muscles are an internal hammock that
supports the pelvic organs. We use these muscles to:
- consciously control our bowel and bladder
- perform sexual functions
- assist the birthing process
- stabilize the spine
As we age, these muscle can weaken and no longer function
in an optimal manner. The risk for problems increases with
childbirth, menopause, abdominal surgery, obesity, smoking,
and chronic constipation.
These risk factors are true for A LOT of individuals. BUT,
just because something is common does not mean it is
To say it is normal is to say that there is nothing to be done
to change it. And there is absolutely a lot you can do to
improve the function of your pelvic floor and regain your
freedom and dignity. You just need to cut through the
myths that surround this delicate subject.
MYTH #1 - Everyone needs to do kegels for a
strong pelvic floor.
The only thing usually discussed in regards to pelvic floor
is kegel exercises. These involve squeezing your pelvic
floor muscles to improve strength.
However, many women do kegels incorrectly. This can
worsen conditions such as incontinence, pelvic pain, and
even low back pain.
MYTH #2 - Pelvic floor problems only occur
when the muscles are weak.
Many clients who work on kegels without relief of their
symptoms actually have a different kind of problem not
related to weakness. In these cases, the muscles are
actually too tight.
For the muscles to function correctly they must be able to
both contract and relax, just like any other muscle in your
body. Therefore, training must be done to relax the muscle
before any strengthening such as kegels should be initiated.
MYTH #3 - I'm too old to strengthen my pelvic
As many people age, they resign themselves to urinary
incontinence or give up on sexual activity due to pain. They
believe they are just "too old" to improve upon their pelvic
floor and regain their freedom.
This is not true! Research shows that age is no barrier to
the benefits of strengthening exercise, and that includes
the pelvic floor muscles.
Myth #4 - I'm a man so I don't need pelvic floor
Men often think they are off the hook because pelvic floor
problems are frequently associated with pregnancy and
menopause. However, men do have essentially the same
pelvic floor muscles as women.
Therefore, they can reap similar benefits regarding pelvic,
back, sexual, urinary, and bowel health. Most notably for
men, these muscles must be trained to improve bladder
control after prostate surgery.
Myth #5 - I have a strong core so I have a strong
When we discuss "core muscles" we refer to abdominal,
low back, and pelvic floor muscles. It's often hard to identify
the difference between each of these since they work
However, a six pack does not mean you have strong pelvic
floor muscles, because abdominal exercise won't directly
strengthen the pelvic floor. Specific pelvic floor exercise are
needed to strengthen the pelvic floor.
TRUTH. . . we can't ignore our pelvic floor!
Exercises to improve the function of the pelvic floor must
address the deep muscles of the abdominal wall. By
improving muscle flexibility, strength, coordination, and
body awareness we can improve muscle function and lower
the risk of incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain.
When problems occur during pregnancy, menopause, post
surgically, or with age an individualized problem may be
needed. Specifically in cases of post partum pelvic pain,
studies found that optimal results are achieved with the
help of a physical therapist who addresses the entire spinal
musculature and pelvic alignment through an individually
Please feel free to comment below or send me a private
e-mail with any further questions you have in this area.