I’m a believer that the world is a better place when we communicate openly.
You know that feeling that you get when there’s something that’s been bugging you and then you talk about it?
It’s ‘a weight off your shoulders’ – See there’s even a cliche to describe it!
This letter to you started the same way. I have a few dear friends who confide in me their ‘secrets’ and it got me thinking. This is something that should be talked about and worked on rather than suffered through. Interestingly I’ve learnt more and it’s way more complicated than you’d think.
My goal for this letter is to open the lines of communication and for people to change their mindsets. The cool thing is, is that you get to choose… will I talk about it or will I pretend that it doesn’t exist?
So here we go..
Through chatting with friends and reading threads on Facebook pages I realised that there’s a LOT of women out there who wear pads to run because of leakage. Some talked about using a super tampon to hold things tight down there and prevent it. That got me thinking – Is this just a fact of life or are there things that can be done about it?
You see the ads on the TV for incontinence pads and they make it seem like it’s a fact of life, and should be accepted BUT they want us to buy their product right?!
I decided to talk to my girlfriends’ more and see what they said. It was really interesting, and actually kind of sad too. Quite a high percentage of them have some symptoms that a physio could work on, instead it seems, that they suffer it in silence accepting it as a ‘reality’ of motherhood. I got in touch with a friend who is an excellent physio because I wanted to know ‘is this something that people should accept?’
I met up with Jonty Garlick and his wife (also a physio) Tam Holden at Pilates Body Dynamics in Taupo to talk things over.
I emphasised ‘I have no designs on being the expert, I’d just like to find out a bit more.’
The thing that really resonated with me was ‘the pelvic floor is a group of muscles like any other in the body’.
If you had a calf strain you’d go and see a physio…
If you had a rotator cuff strain you’d also see a physio…
So why would pelvic floor muscles be any different?
That means ‘Kegels’ right?!
Oh and before you fellas all switch off because I said Pelvic Floor, guess what?! YOU HAVE ONE TOO!!
So what is the Pelvic Floor?
The Pelvic Floor is divided into a triangle of front and back and everyone has one. It is made up of layers of muscles. They are actually a combination of fast and slow twitch muscles so that they can fulfill their many functions! Yes, sphincter control, but did you know the pelvic floor is also one of the components of lumbo-pelvic stability? It also has lots of relationships to different joints and muscles as well as to postural alignment. The Pelvic Floor muscles are even ‘Trauma muscles’. We can harbour emotional and physical trauma in this area, whether it be current or historical.
Sounds pretty important right?! – IT IS!
When most people hear Pelvic Floor they think ‘leaking’ and ‘mums’. WRONG!!
We can have a pelvic floor that underworks AND you can in fact have a pelvic floor which works too hard ie it’s overactive. Jonty and Tam described this to me as a muscle that is always clenching, working harder than it might need to at any one time. It makes sense. This is actually more common than an under-working pelvic floor. And guess what? The OVERactive Pelvic Floor could still result in leaking!!
One really important point to note is that leakage is not normal. So if you are silently suffering with leakage, and running with a pad, then it’s worth seeing someone. They’ll be stoked that they have the opportunity to work with you and make your running a more pleasant experience.
Whatever you do, don’t go and Dr Google – we all know how that ends up:
Instead of using it for searching symptoms or wondering ‘if it is or isn’t what’s going on’ do your homework to find out who to see.
Well, this one got me!
Pelvic Floor can manifest as:
- back pain
- tight hips and issues with running downhill (if your PF is overactive it won’t allow hip musculature to let go)
- abdominal distension/pain
*If you are a runner suffering with recurrent undiagnosed pain your Pelvic Floor could be the mystery item.
If this sounds like it might be you, what now?
Please go and see a reputable physio. They assess you on a case by case basis and should approach the situation holistically looking at posture, breathing, Hip/Pelvis/Spinal function etc and not ‘just’ focus on the pelvic floor.
Talk about it.
Let’s take away the stigma and talk about pelvic floor just like we would any other group of muscles. We are adults and we want the best for ourselves, and our friends and loved ones.
If you learnt something by reading this or think it is something a friend should read please like the facebook post, (share it if you’re really brave) and tag a friend who you can talk pelvic floor with.
Thanks for reading, and thank you to all of my friends and family who I talk pelvic floor with (men and women)!
Also a massive thanks to Jonty and Tam for giving up their time to chat Pelvic Floor with me. You two are a great team!
Wishing a happy and healthy pelvic floor to you.