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Spire Tunbridge Wells Physiotherapist, Victoria Shilling, leaks information on your Bladder and Bowel

29 April 2016

The pelvic floor is a muscle that we have all heard of, but are we using it effectively? It can have a major impact at any stage in your life. The implications of pelvic floor muscle weakness can significantly impact on an individual’s quality of life. But, the nature of this condition prevents us from seeking help.

What is your pelvic floor?

It is a layer of muscles within the pelvis. Its functions include:

  • Support of internal organs (bladder, bowel and womb)
  • Maintain continence of both bladder and bowel (supports the bladder neck and re-enforces anal sphincter closure)
  • Assists in bladder emptying
  • Sexual function

What can cause it to weaken?

  • Childbirth/pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Recurrent lifting
  • Recurrent coughing
  • Constipation/recurrent straining
  • Being overweight
  • Abdominal, gynae, or bowel surgery
  • Lack of general fitness/inactivity
  • Neurological damage: spinal injury, MS, diabetes

 Common conditions associated with pelvic floor weakness:

  • Stress incontinence: Leakage on exertion, eg, cough, sneeze, lift, laugh
  • Urgency/urge incontinence: Sudden urge to urinate without prior warning. If ignored, leakage could result.
  • Prolapse: Protrusion of bladder, bowel or womb from the vaginal opening
  • Faecal incontinence: Loss of faecal matter without awareness. Inability to control wind.                            

What can you do about it?

Pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Women

Identify the muscles visually

  • Tighten/pucker and lift through the back passage as if stopping wind from passing
  • Imagine you are stopping urinating mid flow
  • Imagine there is a pearl at the vagina opening. Draw the pearl into the vagina
  • Imagine you have a zip from the anus to the pubic bone. Zip from back to front.

Men

Identify the muscles visually

  • Tighten/pucker and lift through the back passage as if stopping wind from passing
  • Imagine you are stopping urinating mid flow
  • Observe in the mirror, you should be able to see your scrotum lift
  • Imagine you have a zip from the anus to the pubic bone. Zip from back to front.

Keep your buttocks and thighs relaxed and breathe

The programme:

Now you have located the muscles:

Aim to hold for a count of 10 seconds.

Aim for 10x in a row

Repeat 3x per day.

Lying/sitting/standing/walking

If you cannot reach a hold of 10s,10x then aim for 1 more second and x1 more repetition than is comfortable to overload the muscles.

 Do 10 quick contractions 1-3x per day

Evidence has shown that a large proportion of people when assessed are not correctly performing a pelvic floor contraction, so it is strongly recommended that you are assessed to ensure correct technique

It needs to be re-enforced that it is never too late to seek help - do not suffer in silence.

As a specialist physiotherapist with 14 years of experience and postgraduate training in this field, Victoria Shilling can offer compassion and expertise within a supported and confidential environment. Please contact her for a consultation at the Spire Tunbridge Wells Hospital on 01892 741141 or email victoria.shilling@spirehealthcare.com

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