1 in 3 women post childbirth experience it and 1/5 of high impact athletes have it but all deal with it more often than not silently. Why?
Where to begin?
I train and talk to many women at various ages who know all too well what incontinence is.
Especially, when training in the gym.
They will usually tell me straight up ‘oh I don't want to jump because of you know, incontinence?’.
It’s a little bit shameful for some but mostly as if they are just another statistic and its completely ‘normal’ to put up with.
However, it’s not ‘normal’ as it indicates dysfunction.....but it is common, and because it’s common, people accept it as being normal and don’t do anything about it.
Well I’m here to tell you that it’s not and in most cases experts agree that pelvic floor training can improve your quality of life by reducing incontinence.
Of course, there is a percentage of women where there are other factors at play, but by simply knowing how to contract your pelvic floor and coordinate this contraction many women should be able to improve or solve their incontinence.
So let’s take a journey into what you can do to help improve your pelvic floor and get rid of this little annoyance, which is meant to be just normal and a way of life.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is like a band of muscles, which has a few functions;
Control the degree of continence we have
Preventing pelvic organ prolapse by being the supporting muscle to those organs
Core stability which allows our truck (midline or abs/back) to be stable enough for our limbs (legs, arms, head) to work off
The pelvic floor is the bottom band of red muscle connecting from the pubic symphysis to the coccyx (end of the spine).
The pelvic floor band acts like a net set up inside of you. The net spreads out and ‘catches’ any organs that might want to fall down. This net is firm and strong at first.
However after childbirth, pregnancy, chronic cough, obesity or straining to empty your bowels this material becomes less elastic and sags.
The pelvic floor is unable to resist these pressures and the pelvic organs are pushed down and the pelvic floor stretched.
Therefore the pelvic floor is unable to hold in everything it needs to hold in. This stretching action is the usual reason for incontinence and prolapse. Like any muscle, however, the pelvic floor can be tightened and also controlled so you can coordinate the contractions better.
The more control you have over your pelvic floor can help reduce the symptoms of incontinence and prolapses and also strengthen your core.
So now you know the basics, and the stats, why is this easily treatable discomfort so widespread and why is no one doing anything about it?
Well in my own experience, many trainers simply do not know enough about the pelvic floor and how to treat the symptoms of incontinence.
Furthermore, many women I feel treat it as if it’s simply something women must deal with like anything else. But in most cases, it is easily treatable by identifying your own pelvic floor and doing daily exercises to build up its strength and having a conscious control over it!
We have to keep in mind this is a completely fixable annoyance for most women, and start letting people know that although yes it is completely normal you do not have to live with it!
I would urge you all to spread the word if you are dealing with incontinence and find a trainer or a physio that can help!
My next blog will be showing you how to learn about contracting your own pelvic floor and how to exercise those muscles!