Are you pelvic flawed?
The topic? Pelvic Floor and the Female Athlete.
Although athlete is in the title, pelvic floor work is for EVERYONE! Whether you’ve had a baby or not, male or female.
Let’s say, if your knee hurts, you stop and look into fixing it. However, if you leak, more often than not, you’ll probably pass it off as normal as that’s what we’re told to expect being female.
Yes it’s true the female anatomical structure means that there is a hole in the pelvic floor, unlike the male anatomy.
Anyway, back to incontinence, let me tell you, it’s common but it’s not and shouldn’t be seen as normal.
Here are a few key points from the event…
- 1 in 3 women leak
- 1 in 10 18-25 YO women leak
- Women that leak the most, contract their pelvic floor the most (Smith et al, 2007) – their PF is too tight and doesn’t release, it needs to “bounce”.
MORE ON THE CORE + FLOOR
- Pelvic floor exercises have been simplified too much so they no longer work.
- Squeezing your PF/kegels doesn’t work as you’re using it in isolation. You need to work it in conjunction with the rest of the muscles.
- The core is a cylinder that needs to bounce and diaphragmatic breathing is key for this. On the inhale, everything drops, on the exhale it suctions up.
Fitness involves big, repetitive, high load so we need to train for that. So, pelvic floor training needs to be functional – use it sitting, standing, lying, squatting, legs together, apart… You get the drift.
THE BRACING ISSUE
Pregnancy aside, there’s another cause, thanks to the tensed abs of Instagram, being told to pull our tummy in as a child for posture and what I’ll refer to as the “societal norm body” (it should not be, but unfortunately this is something that’s still the case).
Breath holding and abdominal bracing (or “gripping”) mean that everything is gripped from the middle section, so your diaphragm and breath doesn’t get used in its full capacity. This means, more than likely you’ll breath into your chest and just use your upper tummy muscles.
This in turn creates what Clare referred to as the “pressure belly”, that awkward pouch that sticks out in your lower abs. So, if you want a good core, and to develop your internal Spanx, work on letting it hang out so you can breathe properly, all the way into your pelvic floor.
TOP TIP: If you find you’re an “abdominal gripper”, begin each session with focusing on belly breathing and incorporate rotational moves into your workouts as it’s harder to grip in these. i.e Russian twists, landmine rotations, wood chops.