Author: Jodie Robertson, women’s health physiotherapist at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW.
There are many reasons for our pelvic floor becoming weaker and contributing to problems with control of our bladder and/or bowel. These include pregnancy, age, poor bladder habits, poor exercise habits or lack of general exercise, being overweight, weak abdominal muscles and more…
For many women, the weakening of the pelvic floor is slow and gradual and we may not notice anything until we experience a change in routine such as a new exercise program, a 2nd or 3 rd pregnancy or even an illness, injury or surgery that causes us to be sedentary or lose fitness. By the time you start to notice leaking or urgency, your pelvic floor has already weakened and you will need to take specific steps to restore its strength and normal function to be able to resume leak causing activities safely, without leaking and with better control.
The first step is identifying where the pelvic floor is and how it normally functions. The Continence Foundation of Australia has many resources available online and pamphlets which can be a helpful first step. However, evidence and clinical experience regarding how to best to train the pelvic floor, particularly in people who are having leaking or control problems, tells us that reading from a pamphlet or book is the least effective way to learn this skill. This is because the training elements of accuracy, feedback and personalization cannot be delivered easily in a self-help format.
A visit to a women’s health physiotherapist can go along way in helping you firstly identify the correct muscles and then learn the correct muscle activation pattern and provide you with a personalized exercise program based on your baseline performance. You may also benefit from the many feedback devices used to assess and help you train the pelvic floor such vaginal cones, biofeedback devices, such as trans (across) abdominal ultrasound. Everyone is different in how they learn and a skilled physiotherapist will be able to identify what works best for you and teach you the best possible way for you to strengthen your pelvic floor and achieve success efficiently and for the long term.
This video , produced by the Continence Foundation of Australia is an excellent visualization tool for you to get started and decide to seek the help you deserve to get you back on track enjoying life with confidence and control.