Our Guest Blogger Rachelle Anne is a qualified exercise professional specialising in women’s health, pelvic floor, energy management and seniors fitness. In this article Rachelle gets right to the bottom of the issue of exercising with a prolapse…
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles within the pelvis. These muscles act as a team to hold the bladder, the uterus, and bowel in place. Much like other muscles in the body, they need to contract and relax for optimal function.
Your pelvic floor works all day long, and you may be completely unaware of its function and just what an amazing system this is. As you inhale, the diaphragm descends, and the pelvic floor and abdominals lengthen and relax. As you exhale, the diaphragm lifts and there is a gentle lift of the pelvic floor muscles and abdominals co-contract.
The diaphragm, back muscles (mutifidus), spine and abdominal muscles are all part of the pelvic system.
If we hold our breath when exerting ourselves, this creates intra-abdominal pressure making the pelvic floor muscles bear downwards, which can lead to pelvic dysfunction over time.
Many post-natal women are unaware of this, and it becomes an ongoing pattern in their lives. For instance, we often hold our breath when lifting heavy items.
Constant bearing down on the pelvic floor can also cause incontinence and/or pelvic organ prolapse. Chronic constipation and subsequent straining are other causes and need to be addressed.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissue supporting the pelvic organs (the uterus, bladder, and rectum) becomes weak or over stressed. This allows one or more of the pelvic organs to drop or press into or out of the vagina.
Some women experience this after childbirth and some at midlife when estrogen levels begin to fall. However, this problem doesn’t discriminate and affects women of all ages. If you have any feelings of soreness, heaviness, or bulging in your pelvic region, it’s important to see a health professional for assessment.
It’s normal to feel embarrassed about having a pelvic check-up. However, making an appointment to see a women’s health physiotherapist or doctor is the first step to supporting you to understand your individual pelvic floor and any issues.
Support is always available and there are some great tools in how to manage incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Your medical professional is well trained and is always a great place to look for support.
First, don’t do anything without professional guidance. Your women’s health physiotherapist will guide you to ensure you understand how to engage your core and pelvic floor as well as advise you of other aspects of looking after your pelvic health.
Finding exercises that suit your individual needs is important for mind, body, and soul. There are so many ways to incorporate exercise into your life with pelvic organ prolapse and/or incontinence. For example:
All of these mentioned above can be scaled to suit and are as individual as you are! There is no right or wrong exercise for women with pelvic floor issues, it’s all about experimenting to see what works for you.
A qualified exercise professional will work alongside your physiotherapist guiding you on the correct techniques of managing your intra-abdominal pressure and how to integrate this and more into your exercise routine. The mind/body connection is also an important part of the process.
Would you like to understand more about exercise designed to support you in integrating the core and pelvic floor? Sign up for Rachelle’s free email mini-series “Is your pelvic floor holding you back?” here: https://meeactive.lpages.co/pelvicfloor
Rachelle is the founder of MEE Active and Rachelle Anne Coach where she helps people step off the sidelines of life and into movement that matters. A certified Female Health and Performance coach, as well as movement & wellbeing at midlife specialist, she enjoys teaching women about the connection between their mind and body. Rachelle works with clients in person on the Gold Coast and also online through zoom sessions or online courses. Find her at https://rachelleanne.com/
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