The importance of strong pelvic floor muscles
Statistics show that up to a third of women and 1 out of 5 Australians of every age and gender will suffer from a type of pelvic floor dysfunction at some time in their life. Commonly and wrongly thought of as a women’s only problem, men and children can have pelvic floor dysfunctions as well that can lead to a host of other flow on problems.
What are the pelvic floor muscles?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles running from the base of your pelvis to the coccyx (tailbone) and ischial tuberosities (sit bones). Your pelvic floor muscles help to keep your bladder, uterus and bowel in the correct position. These muscles are very important to bladder, bowel and sexual function in men and women.
What can weaken the pelvic floor muscles?
Just like other muscles in the body, the pelvic floor muscles can become overstretched, too tight or torn which can cause them to become slow to work. Things like the following can cause that to happen:
- Not keeping them active
- Being pregnant and having babies
- Severe and ongoing constipation
- Being overweight
- heavy lifting
- Getting older
What are the symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles?
Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause a variety of issues not limited to the following:
- Urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing or physical activity
- A sudden urge to urinate
- Bowel leakage with physical activity or strong urge
- Leakage of wind
- Vaginal pain mixed with a feeling of heaviness (prolapse)
Pelvic floor muscles in men
Pelvic floor dysfunction is also commonly known as prostatodynia in men. The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues, your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel.
It is common for men to suffer from overactive bladder more frequently than any other form of incontinence. Some men also experience increased urinary frequency, urgency and nocturia—the urge to go in the middle of the night. When your bladder is contracting frequently due to dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles, you feel like you have to go before your bladder is actually full.
Men with incontinence usually find pelvic floor muscle training can help in getting over this problem.
Why it’s best to seek help from a physiotherapist
Like all exercise programs and exercises, pelvic floor exercises are most effective when shown directly to you in a plan that is individually tailored and monitored. The exercises as they are described are only a guide and may not help if done incorrectly or if the training is inappropriate.
At Lane Cove Physio we have not only a titled musculoskeletal physio and a sports specialist physio but also a women’s health physiotherapist specialing in pelvic floor muscle exercises. They can assess your pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet your specific needs. They can also prescribe other treatment options such as biofeedback and discuss relevant lifestyle factors with you.
Common techniques used by physiotherapists in treating pelvic floor dysfunction:
- External and internal soft tissue mobilization
- Myofascial and trigger point release
- Visceral manipulation
- connective tissue manipulation
- Deep tissue massage
- Electrical stimulation: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Heat and cold therapy
Women’s health physiotherapy areas of expertise:
- Urinary incontinence or reduced bladder control
- Bowel incontinence or constipation
- Urge incontinence and overactive bladder
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Painful sex
- Pregnancy-related pelvic pain – see Aquatic Natal Classes
- Post-natal care including abdominal separation
Our women’s health physiotherapist, Monique Bain, has expert skills in assessment and treatment of pelvic floor muscle function and dysfunction, as well as other musculoskeletal issues common in women.
To make a booking for an assessment or consultation with our physiotherapists about pelvic floor dysfunction or any other issue, feel free to contact us on (02) 9428 5772 and we will do our best to answer all your questions and provide you with an appointment time.