News flash! You shouldn’t pee when you run! Or jump or cough or sneeze or any other activity like this. Why is it acceptable for this to happen? Yes, you had children/surgery/it’s always been a problem…whatever the reason…it’s not a good reason. There is a group of muscles down there that I will call the pelvic floor (PF) that help prevent this from happening. So just like any other muscle, figure out how it works, and make it work.
Let’s go over some anatomy first to help explain all that is going on in your PF. Obviously men and women are slightly different, but the pelvic floors muscles are the same. The PF is a collection of muscles which line the bottom of the pelvis. Think of it like a trampoline – it remains taut however can stretch as required. The PF is comprised of separate muscles that can act individually and all together. Take a look at the anatomy diagram to understand a little better. Do you recognize a muscle or two that I talked about in the deep hip rotator blog a few weeks ago? That dang PIRIFORMIS is involved in everything!
The PF has many important functions including supporting the contents of the pelvis, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. The contents of the pelvis include the bladder, uterus & vagina (in females), prostate (in men), small bowel and rectum. When there is a lack of support to the organs of the pelvis there are a number of events which can potentially occur including rectal or vaginal prolapse and bladder leakage.
In addition to all of the functions above, the PF actually contributes to the stability of the lumbar spine and pelvis. The strength of the PF needs to be addressed when talking ‘core strength’ as it acts in conjunction with the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles to assist in core stability. This is vital when it comes to rehabilitation and preventative measures towards low back pain, pelvic and hip pain.
It is also important to consider the PF as any other muscle in the body – it can become tight, strained, weak or inactive. This first video goes over ways to help reactivate your PF muscles to help with leakage during activity.
This next video goes over exercises to help relax those PF muscles. Please realize these exercises are just recommendations. If you try the muscle activation exercises and it makes the leakage worse, maybe try the relaxation exercises. A muscle can be both tight and weak. Give it some time. For most of us who experience leakage after childbirth, it took a while for them to stretch and it will take a while for them to recover. But as you have realized, they won’t recover on their own.