Incontinence and the Pelvic Floor
One of my clients complimented me the other day about her progress in the most unusual way and it brought me back to the importance of the pelvic floor. Although I’d been working on a fitness program with her emphasizing back care, cardiovascular endurance and balance, she reported to me that the exercises we have been doing have completely reversed her issues with incontinence.If you have bouts of incontinence, you are not alone. According the the National Association for Continence, “one-third of men and women ages 30 - 70 have experienced loss of bladder control at some point in their adult lives and may still be living with the symptoms”. Most of you are familiar with Kegel exercises especially if you have children. Stopping the stream of urine is impractical and uncomfortable at times. It does, however, help you find the muscles of your pelvic floor.The good news is that there are other ways to activate your pelvic floor. Any exercise you perform that emphasizes balance and stability of the spine will encourage your body to utilize your pelvic floor for stability. Balance exercises like those performed in yoga, working on unstable surfaces such as discs and stability balls and core exercises such as bridges contribute to the strength and endurance of the pelvic floor. These exercises also contribute to stabilizing your body in the movements your perform every day - getting out of bed in the morning, picking up the groceries or even putting on your pants.In order to stabilize your spine and, thus, your entire body you must stabilize from the ground up... Stabilization starts at the base of your spine, your pelvic floor. Then your body must coordinate the contraction of your abdominal muscles and back extensors to create a dynamically rigid center or core. All movement must either be initiate, stabilized and/or transferred through your core. The more that you activate your pelvic floor the more stabile, or dynamically rigid, your spine will be.If you continue to stay active, perform functional exercises and attend a yoga class or two, you are more likely to have a stronger back, better balance AND suffer from less incidences of incontinence, as my client duly noted. So get out there and move. It’ll keep you healthy and dry.