By Nav Grewal, Registered Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Coughing, laughing, sneezing. Jumping Jacks. Running. Dancing at a wedding. These are some of the things my clients will say cause leakages, but, “oh, that’s normal, right? I’m just getting old”, or “All moms have this after kids!”. The answer is no.
Urinary leakages are something that are thought of as a normal part of a woman’s life but this needs to change. Any amount of leakage coming out of your body, whether it be drops or a lot, should be of concern. More importantly, this can be treated through pelvic floor physiotherapy.
The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for controlling the bowel and bladder. They sit deep within the body and are not visible to our eyes but they have a very important job. They are working all day long and relax when you urinate or have a bowel movement. When you feel that urge to go to the bathroom but want to hold it longer, they are working. When you sneeze and nothing comes out, they are working. When you orgasm, they are definitely working.
Kegels, or pelvic muscle contractions, have been shown to reduce and/or eliminate urinary leakages in women, and this should be the first line of defense. However, research shows that up to 50% of women are not able to do a kegel properly on their own and may require guidance. If you are finding that you have been trying to do kegels without any reduction in your symptoms, seek help. A pelvic floor physiotherapist will be able to properly guide you towards how to do a kegel, how to breath while doing kegels, and different positions to do them in.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists are trained to perform an internal examination (vaginal and/or rectal) to see how your pelvic floor muscles are contracting. As the muscles sit inside your body, this is the only way to really know what those muscles are doing and we can provide you with feedback to make sure you are doing them correctly. As well, it is important to note that kegels are not suitable for everyone. If someone has an overactive or tight pelvic floor, kegels may not be suitable for that client. Again, an internal examination can give us this information.
Limiting your physical activity or social activities because of leakages can reduce the quality of your life as well as physical health. As per the Canada Physical Activity Guide, 150 minutes of aerobic exercise that raises the heart rate is recommended per week, which includes strengthening at least twice a week. This can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, osteoporosis and improve general health. If leakages are stopping you from participating in exercise, running, dancing, going out with friends, other social activities, get help. It’s never too late.
Nav Grewal, PT, is a Registered Physiotherapist with a special interest in Women’s Health and Pelvic Rehabilitation. She treats various pelvic health conditions, and her goal is to empower women to take charge of their health. If you would like to book a consultation with Nav, please contact IHH at 905-844-8884.
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