Pelvic Health – It’s not just about “Kegels”
Let’s start with the basics, what do the pelvic floor muscles do?
The pelvic floor muscles contract to prevent involuntary leakage with coughing, sneezing, or strain. They help in to control the passing of urine, gas, and bowel movements. They have an important role in sexual function during intercourse, and they support the organs in the abdomen.
You may have heard about pelvic floor muscle training and you might even be attending an exercise class/performing at home work outs to address an issue linked to this area. But how do you know if you’re doing the right exercises for you and how do you know if you’re performing the exercises correctly?
Let’s talk about it!
First, research shows…
The Cochrane Collaboration concluded that there is Level I/ Grade A evidence (the strongest level of evidence available) for pelvic floor strengthening for urge and stress incontinence. The research shows that more than 50% of women do not perform Kegel’s correctly (a Kegel is a pelvic floor muscle contraction). General exercises for the pelvic floor may not be harmful but it is not a treatment on its own for pelvic floor dysfunction.
It’s not just about “Kegels”
Many people believe that pelvic floor physiotherapy is synonymous with “kegels” and this is not the case. As mentioned above a Kegel is a pelvic floor muscle contraction, but what if strengthening the pelvic floor is not the solution or only a part of the solution? Pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by a number of different reasons, therefore, there isn’t simply one solution.
The issue could be due to decreased proprioception of the pelvic floor muscles, issues with motor control, age related muscle fibre loss, muscle weakness, muscle damage, or nerve damage, to name a few potential issues. The reason it is important to receive individualized care, is to assess and treat your individual needs.
So what is Pelvic Floor Muscle Training ?
So what is “pelvic floor muscle training” with a Physiotherapist and how does this differ from general pelvic floor training? Pelvic Health Physiotherapists are registered physiotherapists who have a focus in the assessment and treatment of the pelvic health concerns. Like other physiotherapists, we assess and treat the body as a whole. This means we do not solely address the pelvic floor muscles because the body works as a system and should be addressed in such a way.
It is important to note that the only way to truly assess the pelvic floor muscles is through an internal exam, this is considered the “gold standard.” However, if you are not comfortable with this a physiotherapist can assess general function of the pelvic floor by using external observation with cues and/or EMG biofeedback. In addition, it can be helpful to have a physiotherapist, your “partner in care” with you to ensure you are performing the prescribed exercises properly to gain the benefits of the treatment.
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