Now some of you know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention the pelvic floor however the majority of people either have no idea what those words mean or you’ve heard about it before and now looking around your office feeling embarrassed about whether you should continue reading...
So what is it? Why does it matter? And what should you do about it?
What is it?
Like its name suggests, the pelvic floor is a muscle (many muscles in fact) that stretch like a muscular trampoline from the tailbone to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick.
Imagine the pelvic floor muscles as a round mini-trampoline made of firm muscle. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor can move down and up. The bladder, uterus and bowel all lie on the pelvic floor layer which has holes for the tubes of these organs to pass through to the external layer or the body.
How does it work?
Pelvic floor muscles help give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of urine, faeces (poo) and flatus (wind) and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient.
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. In men, it is important for erectile function and ejaculation. In women, voluntary contractions (squeezing) of the pelvic floor contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
What goes wrong?
The prolonged and regular pressures we put through our abdomen (such as the coughing, laughing, straining on the toilet, bending down, pregnancy, jumping activities) the pelvic floor has to contract to balance the pressure of the abdomen pushing down - to keep everything safe where it should be.
Sometimes this pressure through our abdomen onto our pelvic floor can become too much and without working the pelvic floor muscle it becomes weak. The weakness then leads to a problem with the normal function such as toilet control and you can get symptoms such as leaking.
Why does it matter?
So the pelvic floor muscle is potentially the most forgotten or ignored muscle in the body. 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence – that’s one in two women in that age group. On top of that studies show that 70% of all people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem.
Because so many people don’t reach out about leakage, it reinforces the stigma attached to this problem when really, we should be embracing women’s health (and men’s) by seeking professional help and advice.
If you have symptoms of the pelvic floor it can be embarrassing, awkward and make you feel like you are restricted in the things you want to do. We want you to get comfortable talking about these topics such as leaking and acknowledge that yes they may be COMMON but that does not mean it is NORMAL.
We want all women (and men) to feel empowered in their health and comfortable in their skin whether it be lifting the laundry basket, playing with their children on the trampoline or participating in cross fit 5 times a week without any leaking.
Your health matters.
What should I do?
Firstly, don’t listen to advice from friends or family that include: "it happens to everyone", "don't worry it's normal", "just carry round spare underwear, that’s what I do" just think to yourself; do you want to wait and see if your symptoms go away? Or do you want to stop those symptoms, so you can feel comfortable in your own skin again? Do you want to jump on a trampoline or run up some stairs, or laugh in public without fearing your leakage?
Don’t delay or fear; get yourself booked in to see a qualified health professional to assess your pelvic floor muscles. Women’s Health Physiotherapists are amazing people, they see all sorts of symptoms and problems to do with the pelvic floor and will help you understand your symptoms and what you can do about them.
Why wait to get yourself on the right track to being the happiest, most comfortable version of yourself?
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the skeleton becomes weak and fragile – and as a result bones are in danger of breaking easily. Because bone loss is gradual and painless, there are usually no symptoms to indicate a person is developing osteoporosis and is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’. A person with osteoporosis may suffer a broken bone after only a minor bump, a sneeze, or a fall from standing height.
Who does Osteoporosis affect?
Osteoporosis affects both men and women usually over 50 years of age. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will break a bone due to osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures are reported to occur every 3 seconds. Sadly, in women over 45 years of age osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer.
If Osteoporosis affects people over 50 I don’t need to worry do I?
Even though age is a ‘non-modifiable’ factor that is strongly linked with the development of Osteoporosis the earlier on in your life you take ‘healthy bone action’, the better your chance of reducing the risk or even preventing the disease.
If I have Osteoporosis will my children get it?
Throughout life our bone mass is being lost and replaced all the time, but as we age the amount of bone lost isn’t fully replaced by new bone. Following a bone-healthy lifestyle before the age of 20 can help a young person stock up, or ‘bank’, more bone and lower the risk of Osteoporosis developing when they are older.
Can I prevent Osteoporosis?
The overall risk of osteoporosis is influenced by age, gender and ethnicity. Some risk factors are classified as ‘non-modifiable’, meaning they can’t be changed; these are family history, previous fractures, menopause, certain medications and other medical diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. You can however lower your risk if you only have ‘modifiable’ factors which are things you can change, such as: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, low body mass index, poor nutrition and insufficient exercise.
I already have Osteoporosis; how can I lower my risk of breaking a bone?
Strong bones, together with strong muscles, will help you enjoy an active, mobile and independent future. A first step is to ensure a bone-healthy lifestyle which includes diet, exercise and appropriate medication. Taking regular weight-bearing, muscle strengthening and proprioceptive exercise will significantly reduce your risk of falling or loosing balance making you less likely to break a bone.
I have some risk factors mentioned above, how do I check if I have Osteoporosis?
You can complete the IOF One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test here which will alert you to any risk factors you may have. If you are over the age of 50 years and you have one or more risk factors you should discuss these with your doctor and ask for assessment.
If your risk factors are ‘modifiable’ then book into see one of our health professionals today and write “OSTEOPOROSIS” to get advice on lifestyle changes and start an individually tailored exercise plan that we will be able to monitor and progress as your fitness level improves. Online bookings are available here.
Monday 16th October is World Spine Day. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
Through the generations we have seen patients that have had a variety of treatments from a variety of professions and most tend to suffer with recurring pain, whether it be 3 months later, 9 months later or 3 years after the original injury. Luckily, we are now in an age where the mechanics of back pain is understood to a much better level.
This year, the World Spine Day theme is “Your Back In Action”. The aim is to highlight the importance of physical activity and improving posture as part of good spinal health and prevention of injury.
One of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in the back is a ‘degenerative disc’ which people often describe to us as: "I've got arthritis of the spine" “my spine's collapsing” “my spine is buggered” “my spine is crumbling” which can make people feel helpless, so let’s unpick what it really means…
As we age, our discs (which sit between each bone in your spine) begin to dehydrate, losing height, elasticity, and flexibility. The result is a spine that can feel stiffer, less flexible and a bit sore with certain movements. While almost everyone will have some degree of degeneration into their later years, not everyone will experience symptoms.
Repetitive activities like bending on the waist to lift heavy objects and prolonged sitting also cause wear and tear of the discs and amplify the degenerative process, sometimes people can feel this pain and stiffness from as early as 30 years of age.
We now know that an MRI or X-ray cannot reliably predict the amount of pain a person will experience in their back. Scans with very similar amounts of degeneration can present differently person to person which can be a distressing and confusing experience so it is always best to seek a qualified health professionals advice and help explain the imaging to you.
Physiotherapy supports people to manage their pain by helping them understand their pathology and provide symptomatic treatment relevant to each individuals symptoms. Arguably the most important part of treating back injuries such as a degenerative disc is a holistic strengthening program. By training the trunk stabilizers and core muscles your spine will feel stronger and respond better when performing everyday activities as well as giving you the confidence to do things you haven’t dreamt of doing in years!
Knowledge is power – education on how the spine works is the key to improving the relationship with your back; get assessed, ask questions or download our e-book for even more information about back problems.
Happy World Spine Day 2017!
At Wolli Creek Physiotherapy & Pilates, you’ll be looked after by highly experienced and passionate young physiotherapists with a range of specialist skills and qualifications. We treat and heal all injuries and pain problems, for all kinds of people.