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Pelvic Physiotherapy and The Female Athlete

Our Pelvic Physiotherapist Keri participated in an amazing course last weekend where Antony Lo focused on The Female Athlete and the importance of the pelvic floor in this population. The take away message was clear…pelvic physiotherapy is a very valuable prevention and  treatment option for active women.

In a study by MacKenzie, Watson et al in 2016, 361 women who went to the gym were surveyed. The findings showed that:

  • 49.3% had stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and that most had slight to moderate leakage
  • 96% had atleast one SUI risk factor
  • 97.2% had heard of pelvic floor muscle exercise

The study found detailed the following as risk factors for Stress Urinary Incontinence

  • elite athlete
  • lifting heavy weights (home/work/gym)
  • pregnancy
  • giving birth
  • menopausal or post menopausal
  • gynecological surgery
  • history of low back pain
  • constipation or regular straining
  • chronic cough or sneeze
  • high BMI

A questionnaire with over 400 respondents by Lo and Wiebe showed that the problem exercises (resulting in incontinence) in CrossFit were:

  • 70% skipping (single skips and double unders)
  • 50% box jumps
  • 30% running
  • 15% heavy squat or deadlift

The Facts (Nygaard et al 1990, Poswitata et al 2014, IUA 2011, CFA 2013)

  • incontinence affects 1 in 4 to 1 in 2 women who exercise
  • up to 4 in 10 women have pelvic organ prolapse during their life
  • pelvic pain affects 1 in 7 women between the ages of 18 to 50 and their is a lifetime incidence of chronic pelvic pain as high as 33%
  • the worse these issues, the more they are a barrier to exercise
  • inadequate exercise is associated with a high BMI, which is a risk factor for incontinence and prolapse and has a strong predictor of treatment failure (symptom improvement with decreasing BMI)

It does not matter what exercises you do. What does matter is how you do the exercise! WE HAVE OPTIONS!! Restriction of exercise may not be the answer! Got questions? Book an appointment with one of our pelvic physiotherapists and find the answers that will help you stay STRONG, CAPABLE, ADAPTABLE and RESILIENT!

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