20 Jun We don’t like to talk about …
One of our lovely clients was lifting her weights like there was no tomorrow. When we said, time to lift heavier, she was looking a little uneasy and embarrassed and we wondered why. After a conversation we discovered that she had a little leakage when using the next size weights. There was no other sign. She could do jumping jacks, deep squats, the list went on, there was just this circumstance.
We are about to talk about a subject, that many of us don’t like to talk about, and that is incontinence.
Incontinence is the accidental loss of urine from the bladder or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowels. The severity can range from a random little leak to a complete loss. You may not know this, but, over 4.8 million Australians have bladder or bowel control problems.
- sometimes feel you have not completely emptied your bladder?
- have to rush to use the toilet?
- wake up twice or more during the night to go to the toilet?
- sometimes leak when you lift something heavy, sneeze, cough or laugh?
- sometimes leak when you exercise or play sport?
- plan your daily routine around where the nearest toilet is?
These are just a few ‘do you’s’ to get you thinking!!!
But as a woman…
If you’ve had a baby, post-menopausal, had a prolapse (a sagging down of pelvic organs, commonly after childbirth), or had a hysterectomy or other gynaecological surgery you are at risk of being incontinent.
But it doesn’t stop there. If you are overweight, obese, regularly lifting heavy weights, now I mean heavy like 100 kilos. Strain when going to the bathroom, have chronic coughing or sneezing linked to asthma, smoking or hay fever, or a history of back pain. Or maybe you’ve suffered a trauma or injury to the pelvic area or have had abdominal surgery. Overwhelming, right?
In many of these instances we are talking about a weak pelvic floor, not all, but many. Now, you might be thinking I do planks. Guess what you can do a plank without engaging your pelvic floor and in fact probably many of us don’t engage. I’ve released several free morning routine guides and videos over the years explaining how to use your morning deep breathing and include your pelvic floor exercises at the same time. Less than a minute of your time.
What is the pelvic floor?
Are you wondering why there is a photo of a hammock, above? The pelvic floor is a bit like a hammock. A group of muscles and ligaments stretching from the pubic bone to our coccyx and between our sitting bones. It holds up our pelvic organs and has an important role in opening and closing off our urinary and anal sphincters. Stretching and weakening the pelvic floor can increase the risk of bladder and bowel control problems and prolapse in women.
Being a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets.
Have you heard of Urinary Incontinence?
When you lift weights, your body releases an excessive amount of stress hormones. After all, there's nothing more physically stressful than lifting above your shoulders. These stress hormones can inflame your bladder causing urinary incontinence, making it more difficult to control.
Breathing is Key
We often see clients holding their breath during a lift. Don't hold your breath. Instead, breathe out (known as concentric) as you lift the weight and breathe in (known as eccentric) as you lower the weight. For example if you are doing a chest press, inhale before lowering the weight to the chest, and exhale when you are pushing the weight away from you.
Need some Help?
Firstly, you can speak to a continence advisor with the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66. They have a wide range of information, resources and referrals to local services.
You may not know this, but I am a continence certified fitness professional and believe that all fitness professionals should have a level of training in this area whether working with males or females. Incontinence is not gender specific.
The moral of the story is to know your body and to do your pelvic floor exercises daily and to speak up when you have any concerns about changes you are noticing when you are exercising. Finally, remember to breath when lifting weight. O, Peta