Why Pelvic Health Physiotherapy will change your life

Why bother finding out what’s REALLY going on down there? If you answer yes to ANY of the follow statements then your pelvic floor muscles are not doing their job and it’s worth finding out why…

  • I leak when I cough/sneeze/exercise
  • I leak when I don’t make it to the bathroom on time
  • I often rush to get to the bathroom to avoid leaking
  • I pee ‘just in case’
  • I pee more than 10 times a day
  • I feel pressure in my vagina/rectum
  • I feel like my insides are falling out
  • Things don’t feel right down there
  • Sex is painful
  • My back pain keeps re-occurring
  • I’m constipated no matter how much fiber I eat/water I drink
  • I still look pregnant (mummy tummy) even though I exercise and eat healthy

Your doctor may have told you “go home and do some kegels” to help with any or all of the above issues but did they ever explain where the muscles are or how to activate them? Most women I see in my physiotherapy practice say no one has ever shown them where these muscles are. It’s not surprising that a large percentage of women are doing kegels incorrectly! The pelvic floor muscles attach from your pubic bone to tail bone (front to back) and sitz bones (side to side). They act as a trampoline and have many jobs including supporting your bladder/uterus/rectum (and your baby when pregnant), stabilizing your low back/pelvis and closing the openings where urine and stool come out. In my opinion they are one of our most important sets of muscles our body has (men have them too) and are kind of a BIG DEAL!

pelvicfloor

Some common myths about your pelvic floor (a.k.a kegel) muscles:

1)    If you are pregnant or have had children it’s normal to have incontinence/urine leakage….FALSE

A: It is common but NOT normal to leak urine at ANY time. If your pelvic floor muscles are doing their job and activating at the correct time, then you should never be leaking regardless of your age or how many children you have given birth to.

2)    If you have had children your pelvic floor muscles must be stretched out and weak….FALSE

A: Your pelvic floor muscles can actually be tight even after having children. Just like any other muscle in the body, your pelvic floor muscles can have knots/trigger points. They can be tight for various reasons including; poor posture, stress, constant clenching, scarring from tearing during childbirth and/or pelvic surgeries. Try picturing doing a bicep curl…if your pelvic floor muscles are tight, it’s the same as only activating the top part of the bicep curl instead of a full contraction and relaxation which is required to prevent leaking and pelvic organs from descending as well as connecting with your core 4 to resolve an abdominal separation.

3)    If you haven’t had children, your pelvic floor muscles must be doing their job….FALSE

A: Women who haven’t had children can experience all of the above symptoms including abdominal separation. Doing sits ups/crunches increases pressure in your abdomen which pushes out on your abdominal wall and can create/worsen a separation over time, pushes down on your organs and pelvic floor which can cause incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Also if you have tight pelvic floor muscles you may experience pain with sex and have incontinence for the same reasons mentioned above. Lastly, if you have had low back pain, pelvic pain, or sacroiliac joint pain and these muscles have not been re trained- they may not be working optimally. Basically, not having children doesn’t mean you get to steer clear of checking in with your pelvic floor.

So what is involved with a pelvic physiotherapy assessment?

We take a detailed history including your concerns, goals, medical / injury history and ask about your fluid intake, how often you void (both number 1 and number 2). This information is important in determining how your pelvic floor is currently functioning. We look at your posture, core stability, spine mobility and also check your external muscles that connect into your pelvis. For the internal portion of the assessment we talk you through the process and make sure you are comfortable at all times. It involves palpation of the muscles at the opening of your vagina and inside your pelvis. An internal assessment is the gold standard for assessing your pelvic floor muscle tone/tightness, strength, control and coordination/timing. We also assess any scarring/tearing (vaginal and c-section) you may have experienced with childbirth or other surgeries as this can contribute to pain and/or poor activation of your pelvic floor muscles.

I have many women ask – how did I get into the area of pelvic physiotherapy? Well, I began my career as an orthopaedic physiotherapist treating necks, backs, shoulders, ankles and still continue to do so. I use Pilates as a form of rehab for my clients so as you can guess, the core 4 (pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, diaphragm and multifidus) has always been a part of my treatment. In the past I would often refer to pelvic physiotherapists once I began to hear from my clients about their history that included leaking, prolapse and abdominal separation as I knew these issues would directly affect the progress and outcome of their rehabilitation. I then decided to learn how to assess and treat these muscles internally to better help my clients’ outcomes and increase my holistic understanding of the body. Since then I’ve never looked back! My passion is to help women pre-conception, during pregnancy and post-partum to prevent and resolve any issues which can affect the entire body. I treat incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis rectus abdominis (abdominal separation), back pain, hip pain and tail bone pain. I also enjoy educating women during pregnancy about ways to help with labour and delivery including positioning to help decrease the likelihood of tearing, how to properly push and what to do post-partum to help safely and effectively restore their core.

Remember…It is never too early or late to get your pelvic floor assessed and resolve any of the listed symptoms regardless if they have been occurring for 10 weeks or 10 years.

Spice up your Life: 10 spices for Better Health

No this isn’t a Spice Girls reference, although we were big fans in the 90s….Here are 10 spectacular spices that can boost your health while making your food delicious. Explorers have gone in search of them, wars have been sparked over them, and at times they have been worth more than gold.  Spices have been valued for millennia for their flavour and ability to cure all that ails.  Today researchers continue to uncover evidence confirming the disease-fighting and health-promoting abilities of many spices.

spices

Cinnamon
A traditional holiday spice, cinnamon is not only a yummy addition to hot apple cider, but may be an effective defense against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Studies have shown that as little as 1 g of cinnamon consumed daily maybe able to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Scientists believe the flavonoid procyanidin, which may increase insulin sensitivity, is behind these powerful effects.

Ginger
Used for over 2.000 years in Chinese medicine to treat nausea, scientists are discovering that ginger may have pain-relieving qualities as well.  Researchers from Georgia College and State University found that when participants consumed 2 g of either raw or heated ginger for 8 days prior to performing strenuous exercise, post-workout pain was reduced by 25%.  Although results are mixed, the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger may also be beneficial in treating arthritis. One study found ginger to be nearly as effective as the drug Ibuprofen in treating osteoarthritis pain. Ginger is available in capsules.

Garlic
Fables for its ability to ward off vampires, garlic has been used since ancient Egyptian times to protect against disease and illness.  Garlic’s disease-fighting qualities appear to come from its sulfur compounds that are responsible for its pungent smell. Studies have found that these sulphur compounds allicin in particular, may prevent a wide range of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and even the common cold. Aged garlic is available in capsules.

Turmeric
Traditionally used to reduce inflammation and disinfect wounds, this yellow spice that gives Indian food its distinctive flavour is proving to be a health superstar.  Turmeric’s multitude of health benefits appear to come from curcumin, the powerful polyphenol in contains.  Researchers have found curcumin molecules may be able to increase cell resistance to infection and disease by inserting themselves into cell membranes, making the cells more stable.  Preliminary studies suggest curcumin may be useful in reducing inflammation, increasing cognitive function, and preventing cancer and diabetes. It is available in capsules.

Oregano
Colon cancer rates among cultures that traditionally eat a Mediterranean diet tend to be low. Scientists believe the use of oregano has something to do with this.  Preliminary evidence suggests oregano may be able to induce death in cancer cells!  Oregano’s health benefits don’t stop there.  Research is showing that the chemical beta-caryophyllene found in oregano may inhibit inflammation.  Researcher believe this anti-inflammatory effect may be useful in treating osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.

Rosemary
Another popular Mediterranean spice, rosemary is a good source of free radical-fighting vitamin A, immune-boosting vitamin C, and bone-building calcium.  In addition to its nutritional value, rosemary contains carnosol, a powerful antioxidant that has shown promise in inhibiting the development of breast cancer and leukemia.  Studies have also found carnosol to be an effective defence against oral bacteria, including the cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans.

Cloves
A good source of vitamins C and E, dietary fibre, calcium, and iron, cloves are not only nutrient dense but also antioxidant rich.  When compared to four other popular Mediterranean spices, Spanish researchers found that cloves came out on top in terms of antioxidant activity.  One antioxidant found in cloves, eugenol, has been shown in numerous studies to control pain and inflammation and to have antibacterial effects.  Because of this, clove oil is often used topically to relieve tooth pain.

Cayenne Pepper
Recognized for over 9,000 years by Native Americans for its medicinal properties, cayenne pepper contains a high concentration of the health-promoting compound capsaicin.  Often used to treat muscle and arthritis pain, capsaicin appears to inhibit the body from sending pain messages to the brain when applied topically.  Often heat wraps have this in them.  Researchers have also found this heat-producing chemical may be a useful weight loss aid.  When consumed, studies have shown capsaicin to decrease appetite and increase fat oxidation, especially in the abdominal region.

Saffron
Traditionally used in Persian medicine to elevate mood, research out of Iran suggests this popular Asian spice may be just as effective and the drug fluoxetine in treating mild to moderate depression.  In one study, participants took either a 30 mg dose of saffron or a 20 mg dose of fluoxetine daily for 8 weeks.  At the end of the study period, both groups showed significant improvements in depressive symptoms, with no noticeable difference between the 2 groups.  Like fluoxetine, extracts from saffron are thought to increase levels of the feel good chemical serotonin in the brain.

Sage
In 1597 herbalist John Gerard wrote that sage “is singular good for the head and brain:, it quickeneth the senses and memory”. British research suggests Gerard was right.  Scientists from Northumbria University found that when healthy young adults were given a 25 or 50 mcl dose of sage essential oil, the participants performed better on memory tests and also reported sense of calm and happiness.  Evidence is also emerging to suggest that the brain-boosting power of sage may provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease as well.

So, spice up your life and food!