Welcome back to the third and final installment of this pelvic health series! Before I dive into today’s material, let’s quickly review what we’ve covered so far…
In part one:
- We talked about how leaking while running is common (one in three ladies!) but not normal, and a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction. These symptoms can be easily addressed with conservative treatment by working with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist (PFPT).
- We also talked about the different types of urinary incontinence (aka leaking), why stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs with running, and how PFPTs are your go-to resource in seeking support around these health-related issues.
In part two:
- We talked more specifically about the pelvic floor system:
- How it’s constructed on a muscular level
- How to properly execute the infamous Kegel exercise
- How breath is important for strengthening and coordinating your pelvic floor system
- How to incorporate Kegels with your breath to address leakage issues
- How to find a PFPT near you!
These two posts have created the groundwork for today’s discussion. So if you haven’t already read through them, I highly suggest starting there first. You’ll get a lot more out of this week’s post by doing so, I promise.
Now without further ado, let’s jump into today’s material! We’re talking about how to incorporate the breathing + Kegel connection we learned in part two with a few of my favorite deep core and hip strengthening exercises. As we discussed previously, our hip and core muscles work in collaboration with our pelvic floor and breathing systems. These teams must work together to achieve optimal intra abdominal pressure (IAP) within our abdominal cavity to create stability between the upper and lower halves of our bodies. This is especially important for executing efficient loading strategies for activities like running and jumping, otherwise leakage and pelvic floor symptoms will occur.
There are many reasons why these conditions develop, and remember, it’s not just related to pregnancy/postpartum! Many women suffer from leaking and other pelvic floor symptoms that have never been pregnant. Read that last sentence one more time. It’s a common misunderstanding that one must have gone through pregnancy or delivered children in order to have pelvic floor challenges — this is simply NOT true! Thus, I highly recommend working with a PFPT to best understand the why behind your symptoms in order to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs.
The exercises I’ve chosen to share below are a great place to start exploring the efficiency of your deep core and pelvic floor connection. These movements are by no means a substitute for seeking care from a PFPT, and I highly recommend you connect with one if you are experiencing any pelvic pain or leakage symptoms. However, I have chosen a few movements my patients have often found helpful in better understanding how to connect their pelvic floor, and then how to translate their Kegel into other strengthening exercises that further support the muscles in and around their core and pelvis.
These exercises are great to incorporate into your fitness routine 2-3x/week as a way to re-educate your stability system and re-integrate your pelvic floor into your workouts. It’s one thing to master your Kegel. It’s another to be able to use it in your day-to-day activities. Eventually, with practice, that conscious contraction of your pelvic floor will evolve back into a more unconscious activation pattern.
I hope you found this series helpful and informative. If you have any questions about the material shared, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to speak further with you!