Bladder weakness and continence issues are not the most common health topics talked about, causing embarrassment for sufferers, despite being common. The television advertisements on TV would have you believe that women over a ‘certain’ age should expect to have incontinence when they laugh, cough or move fast.
Nothing could be further from the truth. With a pelvic floor safe exercise programme and professional care, you can maintain or improve your pelvic floor muscles, preventing continence issues. More than 1.1 million (25%) New Zealanders experience bladder or bowel control problems at some point. If you have visions of people in retirement homes being the ones having bladder issues, think again as 46% of women will at some point experience incontinence with some having this issue as early as their teens, and many more after giving birth.
Unfortunately, it’s not a problem that will just go away by itself, even if you do exercise regularly and take care of yourself. The good news is that with the right advice and education, it can be managed and also prevented.
Exercise is such an important part of being healthy, but it’s important to understand that not all exercises are pelvic floor safe, and that some exercise options can contribute to pelvic floor problems. While all exercise is great for your waistline and fitness levels, when it comes to looking after your pelvic floor muscles, not all exercise is created equal. It’s not about having to step back from your favourite exercise, but rather learn how to make it pelvic floor safe.
So how do you know you are making the right choices when it comes to pelvic floor friendly exercise?
Do some research. Many qualified and registered exercise professionals have specific pelvic floor safe exercise programmes for those who need them. They understand it’s not a topic that is easily discussed, so will be able to educate you without embarrassment. They may also refer you to a physiotherapist that works specifically in this area.
There is no government mandatory registration of exercise professionals in NZ, so some individuals and facilities could be offering sessions that involve exercises that will have a negative impact on continence, and some more extreme exercise options can cause real damage. Using an exercise professional who is REPs registered means you know they have reached an industry recognised standard. Pelvic floor education is important as women (and men) realise that this is a problem that you do not have to put up with, or manage, and that with appropriate professional care they can restore their pelvic floor strength.
The NZ Register of Exercise Professionals understands that educational resources on issues such as these issues should be available to everyone, so a handy ‘Tell Me More’ information guide is available on Core and Pelvic Floor information.
You can request this guide from us as your local REPs registered exercise professional, or go to the REPs website for information. Continence New Zealand has launched an educational awareness campaign to empower and educate women on the importance of pelvic floor safe exercise.
You can also get more information through their website at www.pelvicfloor.nz .