Written by Pam Showman, PT, DPT
There are a lot of myths surrounding the topic of pelvic health and fitness, especially around what priorities should be prior to, during, and after pregnancy. There are also misunderstandings about who the topic of pelvic health tends to affect. In a healthcare system that always seems to have answers in spades but few solutions, it’s easy to become confused and bogged down in information. In this blog, we will quickly address a few of these myths and offer some evidence-based solutions to the questions that people want to ask, but often don’t.
Pelvic health topics only concern women who are pregnant or who have had kids.
Men struggle with pelvic health issues, too. Pelvic structures include muscles, just like the rest of the body, so these topics don’t apply just to women. Muscles are made to adapt to appropriate stress, therefore it’s so important to include them in the rest of your training, whatever it is. Whether you know it or not, the pelvic floor has a role in almost every other movement that your body does! It needs to be talked about and incorporated into training. There are many strategies to do this, and a physical therapist specifically trained with these techniques is a great resource to have on your side as you address these issues.
Doing kegel exercises after giving birth will take care of any issues that arise.
While this may be a part of training the pelvic floor after giving birth, there is evidence to support that Kegels alone don’t accurately mimic how maintaining continence works. Maintaining continence is a coordinated interplay between a lot of different muscles. While Kegels are a great place to start, learning how to coordinate them together in a habitual way during activity will be much more beneficial long term.
Incontinence is normal after giving birth. As long as it’s only a little bit with jumping activities, it’s not a big deal.
While incontinence may be a common occurrence (1 in 3 women leak according to national average), it definitely should not be normalized. While the statistics say that there are a lot of women out there who are facing this issue, only a small percentage seek help. It is not inevitable that you will leak after giving birth, just as no one says that you will never be able to lift your arm again after a shoulder surgery.
Low back pain is something you just learn to live with during pregnancy. It’ll go away at some point.
Low back pain is not inherently caused by instability, by weakness, or by pregnancy. However, the body goes through some pretty big changes in a short amount of time during pregnancy. These changes can cause differences in normal loading to musculature and structures in the low back (and other areas). These differences in loading can overwhelm tissues that aren’t prepared to handle these different loads and can result in painful movement and exercise. However, women are often not given advice on how to actually properly load and build capacity during pregnancy. You aren’t stuck with low back pain; there are strategies to combat this!
There are many questions and assumptions that muddy the waters of issues in pelvic health. The myths addressed above are just places to start. If you are someone who is dealing with a pelvic health issue, please don’t hesitate to find a physical therapist trained in this area to help you navigate this often misunderstood area of health. We at Mobility Fit would love to be a part of your journey to returning to full function and whatever form of fitness you enjoy!
Pam Showman, PT, DPT