Pelvic Floor Help Is Here! Jumping jacks are in your future.
Updated: Sep 8, 2019
Oh how I wish I could do jumping jacks and jump on a trampoline without pee dribbling down my leg. Ever since I had the girls, I now cross my legs before I sneeze. I wear only black leggings to take a run and a funny story can be the death of me.
Dads this post is clearly not for you, I will catch you next time. Additionally, if you have not birthed a child, you may be wondering, huh? The blessing of bringing a child into this world often brings an aftermath of pelvic issues. What are we to do?
Have no fear ladies! As a physical therapist myself, I know there are specialists out there that deal will all kinds of pelvic and women's health issues. I reached out to Brooke Kalisiak PT, DPT WCS of Legacy Physical Therapy in St. Louis to answer a few questions for all of us. Her info and link to her website are below, please reach out to her if you want further help or information.
Thank you Brooke, for taking the time to answer these questions.
Disclaimer – say it with me ladies - vagina, anus, rectum, sex, Kegels. We are all adults here and need to elevate our inner six-year-old boy potty talk.
Brooke, can you explain what your pelvic floor is?
"The pelvic floor is a bowl of muscles on the bottom of our pelvis. Think of them as a bowl that holds the pelvic organs 'fruit' (bladder, uterus, rectum). The pelvic floor muscles span from our pubic bone in the front to our tailbone in the back and from the sit bones side to side."
Are they the same type of muscles as the ones in our arms and legs?
"Yes, the pelvic floor muscles are skeletal muscles, just like in our arms and legs. We can voluntarily contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles need to be able to contract, relax, stretch, and coordinate.
Did you know that the pelvic floor muscles are working for us all day long? At rest, the muscles are slightly contracted to make sure that we do not pee and poop on ourselves. We can voluntarily contract them more, and it can feel like we are puckering our anus or holding back pee. We can strengthen our pelvic floor muscles by doing Kegel exercises, which are voluntary contractions of the pelvic floor.
Remember, the pelvic floor muscles also need to be able to relax, stretch, and coordinate with other muscle. Just like it does not do us much good to keep our bicep muscle flexed all day, the same goes for our pelvic floor. Once we contract it, it also needs to relax.
Our pelvic floor also needs to stretch in several different situations: bowel movements, sex, tampon insertion, gynecological examinations, and vaginal deliveries (by far the biggest stretch). A voluntary stretch of the pelvic floor may feel like a bulging out sensation.
Many people think about the pelvic floor muscles in isolation, but muscles in our body do not work in isolation. The pelvic floor muscles are the bottom of our core muscles. If we think of our trunk as a soda can: the pelvic floor is the bottom of the can, the deep abdominals and back muscles are the sides of the can, and the diaphragm is the top of the can. These muscles all coordinate together to keep our trunk support and give us a strong foundation off of which to move."
How do I know if I have a strong or weak pelvic floor?
"There are things you can do to stop the leakage. Stress incontinence is often a result of the pelvic floor muscles being too weak. A quick test to see how strong your pelvic floor muscles are is the' Stop Pee Test.' Get your pee stream going and mid-stream try to stop the flow. You should be able to stop the flow completely with your pelvic floor muscles. If you cannot stop the flow at all, or maybe only can slow the stream down then your pelvic floor muscles may be weak.
Sadly, I leak when I sneeze or cough too much, Why is that? I feel like every mom that has had a child leaks, is this normal?
"Leaking with coughing or sneezing is called stress urinary incontinence, and it is very common. It is so common after having a baby that many women often think that bladder leakage after they have kids is just a normal part of motherhood. Let me say this loud and clear…. IT IS COMMON, BUT NOT NORMAL. "
Can the leakage be fixed? How?
“Doing Kegel exercises, contractions of the pelvic floor muscles has been proven to help improve bladder leakage. Cues for a correct contraction of the pelvic floor muscles include: pucker your anus, squeeze like you are holding back pee or gas, or imagine you are picking up a marble with your vagina. Try to do 10 repetitions of a 10-second hold 1-2 times a day.
If you have are unsure how to contract the pelvic floor muscles correctly, or you have already tried Kegels and have not noticed any change in your bladder leakage, then you may want to partner with a pelvic physical therapist. Pelvic PTs are specially trained to help you figure out how your pelvic floor muscles are functioning. Many women think they are doing Kegel exercises correctly, but they are, in fact, not. Partnering with a pelvic PT is a wonderful option to help women overcome bladder leakage.”
If I had a C-section birth will I have leakage? Do vaginal births make it worse?
"Good question. Many women wrongly believe that they can prevent themselves from having bladder leakage by having a c-section instead of a vaginal delivery. Yes, women who do have a vaginal delivery are indeed at a higher risk of developing bladder leakage because of the greater risk of injury to the pelvic floor and pelvic nerves that can occur during vaginal delivery. However, women who have a c-section are also still at risk. The extra pressure that the growing baby puts down through the pelvic floor while a woman is pregnant is enough to potentially cause issues like bladder leakage (think bowling ball bouncing on a trampoline for 9 months). Also, in a c-section delivery, the incision cuts through the lower abdominal wall and muscles. This can lead to problems with scar tissue and weakness of the abdominals that can contribute to bladder leakage."
Can a strong pelvic floor improve my sex life?
“A strong pelvic floor not only is helpful to prevent/stop bladder leakage, but it is also super helpful for improving your sex life! Pelvic floor muscles are involved in sexual arousal and orgasms. Making sure you have strong, supple pelvic floor muscles can lead to improvements in the bedroom. Next time you and your partner are sexually active, try squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. Your partner will thank you for it!”
If you were like me, you were doing your Kegels while reading the post. Now, remember to add it into your daily routine and hopefully you will see some improvement. I am actually going to put a reminder on my phone right now for the next month and see how I improve. Wish me luck!
There are many other topics Brooke and I will collaborate on in the future. But we want to hear from you, please feel free to comment or email me if you have a topic you would like discussed. We are all in this together ladies, if you have the issue I am sure you are not alone.
I want to thank Brooke for all this fantastic information.
Brooke can be reached at:
Legacy Physical Therapy
2961 Dougherty Ferry Rd Suite 105
St. Louis, MO 63122
636-225-3649 fax 888-494-7074
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