The pelvic floor experiences a hell of a whole lot when you go through pregnancy. The uterine wall and opening are going through somewhat of a traumatic experience. Sometimes, we can start to experience leakage. Thankfully, there is a way to help those of us who may be experiencing this issue firsthand. To get more insight into how to stop the incontinence of your pelvic floor muscles, we spoke to one of our favorite experts, Brooke Cates. Brooke is a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, core rehabilitation specialist, and prenatal and postnatal holistic health coach. Keep reading for more.
Why Does the Pelvic Floor Experience Incontinence?
When experiencing incontinence of any type, the first step is to always gain a better understanding. Start with the baseline tendencies of your pelvic floor musculature. Assuming you can “Kegel” away incontinence is never a good idea. The pelvic floor musculature is as complex as the reasoning behind your leaking or peeing. Because believe it or not your peeing during jumping, laughing, coughing, sneezing, and other simple actions can be caused by both a hyper-tonic (over toned) or hypo-tonic (under toned) pelvic floor. Knowing which group you fall into is vital for the success of healing any pelvic floor injuries.
To best understand where your pelvic floor is always start with at least one assessment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. I’m such a believer in this crucial step that we have in-house pf pt’s that offer a complimentary 15 min phone consult with every single one of our subscribers. Once your pelvic floor has been assessed and you have a better understanding of which camp your musculature falls into, now it’s time for the magic to unfold.
What to Do About Pelvic Floor Incontinence
Healing and addressing pelvic floor dysfunction is as dynamic as the muscles themselves. Ideally, we want to achieve a level of balance or harmony between the muscles vs them having the tendency to over contract or carry too much weakness. When we talk about “balance” at The Bloom Method we find it equally important to educate our moms on how optimizing the pelvic floor means teaching it to contract + relax when necessary. You see, everything we do causes these muscles to react in an automatic response to the action or movement we’re doing. For example: standing up from a seated position should include a tiny contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (rarely felt) just like placing your body in a child’s pose or in the lowering phase of a squat should cause the muscles to relax and lengthen.
When there is a disconnect with the natural rhythms of how these muscles respond, dysfunction is often present and leaking can be present. To reverse any level of peeing or leaking, we must re-create or re-pattern the natural symbiosis of these muscles and how they respond to all of our movements.
We start small and focus on re-patterning through conscious movements. This starts with gently engaging the pelvic floor and deep core. Like when you pick up your toddler or transfer them to their car seat/crib. You begin to shift the way you use the bathroom and never bare down or force yourself to pee and of course in all of these exists the isometric practice of training the pelvic floor to relax (or lengthen) and contract on demand as well as holding a contraction for several seconds to build your endurance component. The pelvic floor must know how to release and contract.
The Implementation of Pelvic Floor Exercises
Next is the implementation of pelvic floor awareness and exercise. We are big at Studio Bloom about cuing both the release. Also, the contraction in the early states of learning Bloom’s methodology. This is because we know that re-training the PF to work properly takes time and a lot of practice. Sometimes, manual PF work is necessary too, especially if you’re someone who is over-toned. The manual release can be done both by a physio and even solo (with the guidance of a PT). It can be a critical piece in turning the muscles down and creating a more optimal balanced space.
The biggest misconception we see is that women who over-toned (hyper-tonic) feel fright when they contract their pelvic floors. This is due to the fear of continuing to make matters worse. Those who under-tone (hypo-tonic) feel anxiety if they want to relax the muscles. This is due to adding to the current weakness. We often remind women that if we’re aiming for balance (a pf that can contract and release when needed) we still have to have elements of both phases involved in the protocol, even if that means your focusing on more of one version of training over the other.
How to Progress
Once the foundation is there, you’re solid. The understanding of how the pelvic floor works should be relating to movement. Then, women can start to progress to those moves like jumping. This helps prepare the pelvic floor in the best ways. If jumping rope or jump squats are the goals start with squats that when coming up, you transition to the balls of the feet and into a tall calf raise. If the pelvic floor transitions well here, increase to a squat with the tiniest jump. When there is no leaking, continue to increase the height of the jump. We start small two-scale big and help the pf implement safely into all movements/exercises that we do.
An easy rule of thumb is that when exercising, if the muscles contract, gently contract the PF and deep core. When the muscles lengthen allow the PF and deep core to follow suit.
Who Is the Bloom Method?
Brooke has redefined the way women work out when trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and throughout postpartum with her online fitness platform, The Bloom Method. The Bloom Method is the number one pre and postnatal fitness app and is recommended by doctors, PTs, Chiropractors + Moms. This month, she’s adding 50+ new on-demand classes including dance, cycling, and boxing! They do postnatal barre classes to strength training circuits, cycling classes that strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and more. Brooke’s app is for the modern mom looking to workout safely at home. The Bloom Method can help when dealing with pelvic floor issues. Also, they help to build your strength back after having a baby. They can even assist in finding the time to schedule in fitness as a new mom. Brooke has many invaluable tips (and will share myths!) associated with common pregnancy-related issues.