How strong is your pelvic floor? If you are like me, you may have no idea what it even is, let alone how strong it is.
For those who are unaware, the pelvic floor consists of several muscles that run under your pelvis, and essentially stop your guts from falling out of your body. They are also how we control our pee and poo – a weak pelvic floor means you may not be able to control when you go to the bathroom. Like any muscle, the muscles of the pelvic floor can be strong or weak, and strengthen in response to training.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy entered our life after the birth of our first son, which was… challenging. My wife and I are both runners, and my wife planned to run again after the birth, as she had throughout her pregnancy. That physiotherapy has been absolutely crucial in a number of ways – she likely would not have been able to run again without it. That may not sound like a big deal, but for us it is huge. The transition to parenthood is really challenging as it is. For my wife and I, running has always been our go-to form of exercise and stress release. Losing the ability to run (which was a very real possibility for an extended period of time) on top of all the other changes of new parenthood would have been really difficult.
Through this experience we’ve learned a number of important things. If we were to go back in time, my wife would have visited a pelvic floor physiotherapist early in her first pregnancy (or even before getting pregnant). We’ve also learned a number of things that we previously took for granted, especially regarding what is “not normal”.
- Peeing while you run/jump/do exercise is not normal
- Getting up to pee in the night is not normal
- Peeing “just to be safe” before a workout or long trip is not normal
If you do the above (and many, many people do), you may want to visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Lest you think this is an issue that only affects women, it is common in older men who have prostate issues (which seems like most older men). So if you start out with a weak pelvic floor, it’s only likely to get worse following pregnancy/prostate issues. If you are a Kinesiologist/personal trainer who works with individuals who experience the above issues, your clients may benefit from speaking with a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
As I mentioned above, the good news is that you can train your pelvic floor muscles. For example, you can train yourself to go back to sleep when you have to pee at night. It takes time, and it’s not always easy, but it makes a huge difference in your sleep. For more serious issues there are all sorts of fascinating exercises, that are well above my skillset.
So if you are pregnant, or if you pee during exercise (which I should say is actually very common, but not “normal”), I cannot recommend a pelvic floor physio highly enough.