Women's Health, Physio, Pelvic Floor

Pelvic Floor Muscle Training

Pelvic floor muscles are very important as they:

  • Control the bladder and bowel
  • Support the pelvic organs and thus help prevent prolapse
  • Are important for sexual function
  • Support the growing uterus when pregnant
  • Work with core muscles to support the spine

Where are they?

 

  • They attach to the pubic bone at the front and tail bone at the back and to the side of the pelvic walls.
  • They are the only horizontal muscle in your body and often described as a hammock that supports the pelvic organs.

 

What can weaken the Pelvic floor?

  • Regular straining to empty the bowel
  • Constant coughing
  • Weight of baby and hormones during pregnancy
  • Muscle damage and interventions used during birth
  • Work involving regular heavy lifting
  • Excessive abdominal workouts or over challenging exercise
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Hysterectomy and some pelvic surgery.

Pelvic floor muscles cause problems when they are….

 

  • Weak and not strong enough to lift when you run or sneeze
  • Tight and cannot relax  
  • Over powered by excessive tightness in trunk and waist muscles
  • 1 in 3 women experience incontinence after labor due to pelvic floor dysfunction.

 

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises:

  • Restoration of vaginal muscle tone and vaginal health
  • Recover from physical stress of childbirth
  • Prevention and treatment of stress urinary incontinence.
  • Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Increase blood supply and nerve supply to the pelvic region
  • Increases sexual stimulation and feeling

Exercises to strengthen your Pelvic Floor

It is important for all women before and after birth whether they have a vaginal or cesarean delivery to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic Floor Relaxation

It is very important to ensure your pelvic floor muscles are relaxed before you start strengthening them.

  • Lie on you back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Place your hands on the lower part of your tummy
  • Breathe into your tummy slowly and ensure your tummy stays soft
  • Hold for 3 seconds at the end of the breath and feel your Pelvic floor release
  • Repeat 4-5 times

 

  1. Long Hold:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet supported but apart.
  • Squeeze and lift around all 3 openings in your pelvic 
floor. These being your back passage vagina and bladder. Like you are 
trying to stop yourself passing wind and urine.
  • Hold for 6-10 seconds, keep your abdominal, buttock and 
thigh muscles relaxed and continue to breathe 
normally.
  • Relax for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise another 5 times
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, practice in 
sitting and standing.
  • Gradually increase the hold time and number of repetitions until you can do a 10 second hold 10 times.

Remember…Always stop exercising when the muscle fatigues.

  1. Quick holds
  • Tighten the pelvic floor muscles as above but only hold for a second before letting go fully.
  • Repeat 5 times in a row.
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • Gradually increase your repetitions until you can do 20 
quick squeezes in a row, it may take a few months to be able to do this.

How can PH help?

Book appointment with our women’s health physiotherapist Mary-Kate to get a thorough pelvic floor assessment and specifically tailored exercise programme.

01 496 4002     info@personalhealth.ie

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy- By Mary Kate Ryan

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

What is it?

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis. 

It is not harmful to your baby, but it can cause severe pain around your pelvic area and make it difficult for you to get around.

Around 20% of women suffer from Pelvic girdle pain.

Different women have different symptoms, and PGP is worse for some women than others.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain over the pubic bone at the front in the center
  • Pain across one or both sides of your lower back
  • Pain in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum)
  • Pain in your buttocks.

Pain can also radiate to your thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area.

          

   

The pain can be most noticeable when you are:

  • Turning in Bed
  • Going upstairs
  • Walking
  • Standing on one leg (e.g. getting dressed)
  • Getting out of car
  • Standing up

What Causes PGP:

Sometimes there is no obvious explanation for the cause of PGP.

Usually, there is a combination of factors causing PGP.

Relaxin: During pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone called relaxin, which softens your ligaments to loosen up your joints. Relaxin is very important as by loosening the joints it allows your baby to pass through more easily during childbirth however it can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and therefore painful during pregnancy.

Occasionally the position of the baby may also produce symptoms related to PGP.

With PGP the degree of discomfort you are feeling may vary from being intermittent and irritating to being very wearing and upsetting.

  

Treatment

Physiotherapy: Advice, Education, Exercises and Manual techniques can help!

The sooner it is identified and assessed the better it can be managed which may help to speed up your recovery, reducing the impact of PGP on your life.

If you have symptoms that do not improve within a week or two, or interfere with your normal day-to-day life, you may have PGP and should ask for help from your midwife, GP, physiotherapist or other health carer.

Tips:

  • Continue to be as active as your can within your pain limits, and avoid activities that make your pain worse.
  • Ensure your back is well supported while you sit down. This can be achieved by placing a towel between the curve of your back and the chair.
  • Wear flat, supportive shoes and avoid standing for long periods.
  • Get help with household chores from friends, partner, and family.
  • Rest when you can.
  • Sit down to get dressed-e.g. Don’t stand on one leg when putting on jeans.
  • Try and make sure any weight you carry is evenly distributed- this means no shoulder bags, and try nit to left your toddler up onto your hip.
  • Be careful and take your time doing any activities that may put strain on your pelvis i.e. getting out of a car- keep your knees together and squeeze your buttocks.
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs
  • Squeeze your buttocks and keep your knees together when turning in bed.
  • Take the stairs one at a time, leading with the less painful leg.

Avoid:

  • Standing on one leg
  • Bending and twisting to lift
  • Carrying a baby on one hip
  • Crossing your legs
  • Sitting on the floor or in a twisted position
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Lifting or pushing heavy objects such as shopping bags, supermarket trolley.
  • Carrying anything in one hand (try using a small back pack).

Physiotherapy

It is important if you pain is not manageable with general advise to book into a physiotherapist. Treatment includes:

  • Assessment
  • Exercises to specifically retrain and strengthen stomach, back, pelvic floor and hip muscles
  • Manual therapy to ensure your spinal, pelvic and hip joints are moving normally or to correct their movement.
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercises in water.
  • Provision of equipment e.g. pelvic girdle support belts, crutches

To Book an appointment with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist Mary-Kate call Personal Health at 01 4964002 or email info@personalhealth.ie.