……. Now that I have your attention, let’s chat about pelvic floor health and even leakage
Approximately one third of women experience leakage or urinary incontinence post-natal. So in other words, if you’re hanging out with two of your mama gal pals, one of you most likely leaks. Let that sink in.
If you’ve tried doing kegels – contracting your pelvic floor muscles – and have had no luck in fixing your leak then this too, is relevant for you. Urinary incontinence is common, but it is not normal.
First off, perform a kegel now. Don’t know what it is? It’s the most commonly prescribed exercise for leakage and pelvic floor health. Imagine going to pee and contracting your muscles around your vagina to stop the flow. So, please, try a kegel for me. You should feel this contraction towards the front of your body.
If you are feeling it towards the back or around your anus, or are just unsure if you’re performing the contraction correctly, try the following exercise which we learnt off amazing women’s health expert Julie Wiebe; http://www.juliewiebept.com/
Channel your inner winter Olympic athlete and get into what we call the ski jumper position.
Standing upright, hinge forward from your ankles (not so far for you to topple over), then gently bend forward at the hips.
In this position, perform the pelvic floor contraction again. You will feel this contraction towards the front and that’s what we’re after.
Return to standing upright and contract your pelvic floor again, trying to replicate what your felt in the ski jumper position.
Beyond the Kegal
Now that you know what to be feeling with your pelvic floor and kegal, let’s move on to the diaphragm. Take a deep breath for me. Are you breathing from your chest or your belly?
If you’re unsure, place one hand on each and take another deep breath. If the hand on your chest is moving first or more than the hand on your belly then you are breathing from your chest. This means you are utilizing your accessory breathing muscles and not your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is designed to be your main breathing muscle.
There are many benefits related to diaphragmatic breathing such as relaxation, meditation, and even mild pain relief, but it also plays a role in pelvic floor activation and helps stop leakage.
This contraction-relaxation relationship between these two muscles (diaphragm and pelvic floor) ensures that pressure in the abdominal cavity does not increase and put stress on your bladder causing it to leak.
Try This Instead
So if you’re leaking try this:
Stop doing your sustained kegels or your repetitive kegels.
Inhale slowly allowing your belly to go out; pelvic floor should be relaxed.
Exhale slowly allowing your belly to fall in; your pelvic floor will contract ever so slightly.
Inhale slowly, belly out, pelvic floor relaxed.
Exhale slowly, belly in, but gradually perform a kegel to actively contract your pelvic floor.
Inhale slowly, belly out, and gradually release that kegel to relax your pelvic floor.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 a few times in one set. This will help to strengthen your pelvic floor and will be more beneficial than solely doing kegels for days on end.
It is best to seek advice from a health professional because at the end of the day everyone is unique. What works for your friend might not be what works for you.
So if you and your gal pals – fellow mama bears, teenage teammates, or gym partners – are leaking, pop in to your local physiotherapist. I’d be more than happy to help you! Let’s get you back to being dry.
Alex Burgess M.Phty., B.Kin. iMove Physiotherapy
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