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Do not Ignore your Pelvic Floor

16th August 2018

As Fitness Professionals should we consider the implication of exercise on the group of muscles known as the pelvic floor?

The short answer is YES! Every movement in functional daily living and exercise involves this often neglected group of muscles at the base of the pelvis, writes Louise Field, founder of Adore Your Pelvic Floor.

To work effectively, the balance of resting tone, strength and flexibility are required.

As a Fitness Professional I am more than aware that we are not exempt from pelvic floor dysfunction. Between the ages of 18 and 40 I was fortunate to have had five boys, including one set of twins.

Postnatally, I worked on regaining my posture and transverse abdominal function, and began teaching my regular classes from nine months post-partum.

I had not had a full gynaecological check and unbeknown to me, my fascia had torn during the last delivery. Eighteen months later I suffered a bladder and bowel organ prolapse.

This could have naturally occurred over time due to my torn facia during regular functional daily activity; but I have to consider that my job role is physical and the regular projection of my voice whilst teaching would have placed additional load to my pelvic floor group (PFG).

This raises the question, as Fitness Professionals, do we offer the respect our PFG deserves in relation to our job role?

The PFG are required to react constantly with every breath and movement we take. Should this precious group of muscles be ignored just because it is not visible?

Bladder and bowel continence is fundamental to our well-being and confidence. If the warning signs that the PFG are not functioning together are left unaddressed, it is highly likely that muscle dysfunction will escalate.

If we are at risk, so is our client

As Fitness Professionals we have a responsibility to our clients to enhance health.

This often neglected group of muscles should not be overlooked just because it cannot be seen. A client may not mention their issues of incontinence or pelvic pain, but there are typical signs to indicate who may be at risk. Observing these signs allows the Fitness Professional to prescribe appropriate exercise with the confidence that any issues are not being compounded. This leaves the client feeling reassured.

External red flags indicating that pelvic health is at risk or may not be working at its optimum:

Pelvis alignment – There are 45 muscles attached to the pelvis. If any are dysfunctional, it can create an impact to the PFG, be it posterior/anterior tilt or internal/external rotation to one side of the pelvis.

The diaphragm – Shares the same neurological loop (our parasympathtic nervous system – part of the autonomic nervous system which balances the action of the sympathetic nerves) as the transverse lower abdominal, the multifidus, and the PFG. With every breath, the diaphragm depresses, the transverse abdominis eccentrically contracts with the multifidus and the PFG relaxes. This necessary chain reaction can be interrupted with poor posture or pelvis alignment.

But it goes further than this! On average we take 20,000 breaths a day, without exercise. If a person lives with pain, the body’s natural reaction for self-protection affects breath, as it does with asthma, anxiety and clavicle breath. Without this natural neurological reaction within the core the PFG does not get the chance to benefit from the relaxation it requires.

Other contributory factors leading to possible impaired pelvic health function include:

Fallen Arches – Create rotation of the knee, which in turn can affect the femur and the hip. The muscles of the PFG are connected to the pelvis, which can change the resting tension of the PFG.

Valgus (knock knees) – The knee joint will affect the alignment of the hip, in turn affecting the muscles of the pelvic diaphragm.

Overactive Gluteus – The Gluteus Maximus is responsible for hip extension, external rotation and abduction. If it has to assist in the stability of the pelvis it becomes an overactive muscle causing problems with tension within certain areas of the pelvic area.

Visceroptosis – The word viscera refers to internal organs. Visceroptosis is a prolapse or a sinking of the abdominal viscera. The viscera contained within the abdominal cavity are the stomach, kidney, liver, intestines, spleen, pancreas and colon. In ideal conditions these organs are nicely packed and wrapped and function in their normal anatomical position with the help of transversus abdominis, obliques, multifidus, and the quadratus lumborum.

Impaired pelvic health – Who does it affect?

Anybody! Children, teenagers, young women, mums, women of a certain age and men. Habits from childhood can follow us into adult years. Trauma to the pelvis can create its own problems for pelvic health. Lifestyle, inactivity, posture, pain, breathing mechanics, alignment, learned habits, load… the list goes on.

Restoring pelvic health

80% of pelvic health issues can be rectified. A few simple changes with posture, breathing mechanics whilst focusing our exercise prescription to the weakest link can work wonders. A balance between good resting tone, flexibility and strength is key for this complex area.

Adore Your Pelvic Floor runs two CPD Workshops to show you exactly how. We work closely with Specialist Women’s and Men’s Pelvic Health Physios to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Whether in a group exercise environment or training on a 1:1 basis, we need to consider the effect of load on the PFG and whether it can function effectively. Likewise, due consideration should be given to intense core training to ensure we do not create muscles which cannot ‘switch off’. Many fitness instructors, athletes, ballet dancers are unable to switch off the transverse muscle!

To find out more log in to the website above or e-mail adoreyourpelvicfloor@outlook.com

Presenters Louise Field and Fiona Peel are delivering workshops to Fitness Professionals and Midwives in Essex, Leeds and Devon this Autumn

Additional reading: Economic impact of incontinence in Australia Continence Foundation

Original Article: https://www.exerciseregister.org/blog/post/do-not-ignore-your-pelvic-floor/


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