Not Your Mother’s Kegels

Most people have heard of pelvic floor muscles, but most people underestimate their importance and most people don’t do anything to improve their function.  Your pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that create a sling between your sacrum (bottom of your spine, triangular bone) and your pubic symphysis (front and center).  This sling supports your bladder, uterus and bowel.  50% of American women suffer from Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD).  Many do not ask their doctor for help with this condition because they are embarrassed or they shrug it off as “oh that is because I had a baby” or “that is because I am getting older and weak”.  If you are experiencing symptoms such as urinary issues, constipation, painful intercourse, or heavy pressure in the pelvis, you could have PFD.

Most women think that Kegels are the answer to correcting this problem and so that is all they do.  Kegels are important for strengthening the muscles when they have low tone, however, many women with PFD have muscles that are too tight, so constantly contracting them could worsen the problem.

Some women also think that since they haven’t had a baby, vaginal birth especially, or they are young that they don’t have to worry about PFD.  They are wrong.  Two common causes of PFD are sitting too much and standing with poor posture.  This affects many women.   As a chiropractor I see patients every day with pelvic tilt issues, sacral problems and bad daily habits of sitting.

Make sure to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor in your area to have an evaluation of your posture and spinal health.  If you already have a chiropractor, don’t be embarrassed to discuss PFD.  When I am assessing someone’s sacral alignment it is important to know if they are having any PFD symptoms.

Two keys to improving PFD are strengthening the glutes and improving flexibility in the hips.  Squats are a great way to strengthen the glutes, just make sure to watch your form.  You can start by using a chair to sit and stand with.  The yoga pose pigeon is great at stretching deep into the hips.  There are several deep hip stretches that I show my patients, just ask.

Some DON’Ts to be aware of are :

Don’t hold urine as it swells the bladder and increases risk of infection

Don’t go to the bathroom too often because it shrinks the bladder and increases the urge to urinate

Don’t push or strain to empty bladder or bowels

Don’t decrease fluid intake to decrease bathroom trips because dehydration is bad for the kidneys and increases risk of constipation

Don’t do high impact exercises such as running or jumping

Don’t consume a lot of caffeine and sugar

Don’t stand with a tucked pelvis

And please please please don’t keep quiet about your symptoms.  Your health professional can help and PFD is very treatable.

Contact Dr. Brie at 724-940-3900.  Belong to a women’s or mom’s group?  Dr. Brie is happy to come and talk about PFD and demonstrate stretches and discuss tips for treatment.

pfd-embarrased-woman

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