Equilibria
Leave this field empty
Page 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14  

Catch A Wave: Surfing For Your Pelvic Floor

Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 11:13:13 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Staying Low Impact in the Impact Zone

I'm very excited to bring you my second interview in my blog series about the least boring pelvic floor-friendly exercise options.

Madeleine Newton is an ex-pro surfer who happens to also be a women's health physiotherapist working on Queensland's Gold Coast. I don't know much about surfing, except that it looks like an awful lot of fun - and potentially a great all-body low-impact exercise that might be a good pelvic floor-friendly option. Madeleine set me straight on a few things, including how and when it is and isn't pelvic floor friendly, and how your body might feel when you first try to get back to it after childbirth. There's plenty of stuff here to get you amped about surfing!

How did you get into surfing?  

I have always had a love for the ocean and was always in it, from as far back as I can remember-  swimming, bodyboarding, you couldn't get me away from the beach or out of the water!  My parents signed me up for Nippers and I competed for years in that, which was great for developing surf safety skills and learning to save and help others.  But one day at a Nippers competition, in between events, I was out in the water practising and just started to stand up on my Nipper board and surf. The feeling was amazing, I was instantly addicted and I just couldn't stop!  My older brother bought me a lovely little old surfboard and I just never looked back! I started competing in local events and started getting really good results and had a heap of major sponsors, so that lead me to compete around Australia in the junior and school titles and on the Australian junior surfing series until I made it onto the world qualifying series (WQS) which took me to USA, South Africa, Europe, Indonesia and all around the world.

madeleinesurfshot_sm

What was your best result?

I was ranked in the top 16 in the world one year and came 2nd in the Australian Junior Titles and 3rd in the world grommet titles also.  

What do you love most about it?  

Being in the ocean, there's something healing and magical about it! It's freedom! And the feeling of being one with the ocean diving through waves and riding them. The old saying "only a surfer knows the feeling" really is true. It's hard to describe the feeling and nothing else really compares!


How long did you have off surfing after having your baby?

Despite desperately wanting to be back in the water after having my first baby, it took about 6 months before I got back to surfing. My body was just not ready for it.  The combination of extreme tiredness, low iron, recurrent bouts of mastitis, learning how on earth to feed and look after this gorgeous little human properly and having quite a difficult first birth meant I just wasn't able to get back into the water. As much as I love  surfing, it just wasn't a priority for me at that stage, and I felt it had to be put on the back burner while I concentrated on the most important job in the world (and just surviving  really!).  Some women just ease straight into motherhood and make it look so easy, but that wasn't the case for me. My body was so heavy, sore and tired, and having a little creature to look after and care for 24/7 was a huge shock for me (especially having been quite independent previously), it was a very steep learning curve.  I'm very lucky though, to have the most amazing and supportive husband in the world who continuously encouraged me to get back into the water!

What did it feel like to get back on the board for the first time after bub?  

Because it had been a while, I had lost a lot of muscle tone and strength (and had put on a lot of weight too) and I was still quite sore. I remember struggling, fitness wise, to paddle out the back and getting quite frustrated, as I used to be such a high level surfer previously.  I also remember doing a breastroke kick to propel myself onto my board and my groin muscles and pelvis killing me with pain. I think I only stayed out for about 10 minutes and came in and cried to my husband!  But just as I had persevered to get to an elite sports level in the past, and with some help from a personal trainer (doing a mums group training session 1-2x/week) I eventually regained the strength, found I was still able to surf just as well, lost some of the weight, and was back surfing in 6-8ft Indonesian waves again, within 1-2 years.  I guess it's not the picture perfect answer you might have been expecting, but I guess my point is, that for some mums, it's a bit of a struggle after having kids, but if you keep persevering, setting and achieving small goals, you will eventually get there, just as long as you dont give up!

Was your experience any different following the birth of your second baby?

Yes totally different. My second baby was a breeze in comparison.  I was surfing on a rubber mat right upto the day my second baby was born. I was a lot stronger and fitter, I seemed to handle the pregnancy better (no back or pelvis pain this time), labour better and I knew what to do with the baby the second time round.  I was back surfing at around 6 weeks. Being a physiotherapist with a special interest in women's health, I knew the dangers of going back too early and the risks of injury due to joint laxity (and also mastitis from lying on or hitting those enormous boobs) and I was very cautious to only go out in small safe conditions.  My main worry was slipping on the board and stretching already lax ligaments, but that never happened and I found surfing helped me get stronger, fitter, healthier and much much more happy!!! I was a better mum for it too.

Do you think surfing helped you bounce back after having a baby?

Definitely! I felt human again. It gave me "me" time (alone or with friends) in the surf. The feeling was amazing. I felt refreshed and started regaining my strength and energy. It's just an awesome sport for lots of reasons.

Do you ever think about your pelvic floor muscles when surfing?

I don't really think about them, but since having children I am much more aware of my pelvic floor muscles and a correct contraction, and I do notice when they are contracting. For example during paddling, along with some of the other back (multifidus & erector spinae) and core muscles (transversus abdominus), I sometimes feel the pelvic floor muscles co-contracting aswell.  And sometimes I am aware of them 'bracing' prior to and during certain maneuvers and turning the board and so on.  Surfing definitely helps strengthen all muscles including the pelvic floor.  And SUPing (stand up paddle boarding) has been great for small days too.  SUPing is great for the core, arms and legs.. well, the whole body really!

madeleinesurfing_sm

As a physiotherapist, a surf coach, surfer and mum, what advice would you give to mums trying out surfing for the first time?

Just have fun with it.  It's your time away from the kids to enjoy.  Expect (& embrace) a bit of a workout, and allow yourself some time to learn.  It usually takes a few sessions to get up and standing.  It's  also worth getting a qualified surfing instructor to give you some tips to start off with, even the tiniest tips, can help you stand up and ride that wave right through to the shore. Keep persevering, because once you get that feeling, you won't want to stop!  Oh and also, the learn to surf boards can be heavy so make sure you buddy up with someone to help carry your board down to the water to protect your pelvic floor and back, especially if your women's health physiotherapist has advised you not to lift!  Just be aware also not to strain to get the surfboard into position, you can ask your instructor for easy ways to manage your surfboard without having to lift or strain to position it (things like pulling the board around from the leg rope on top of the water rather than trying to lift the board against the water current etc).  Even just laying down and paddling in some safe, flat water is a great low risk way to get used to the board, get a bit of fitness in and get out in the water with your friends!

And great bonus news, mums...you can see Madeleine as your women's health physiotherapist at Pindarra Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine on the Gold Coast. But whatever you do, make an appointment and don't just drop in - it's the ultimate surfing no-no!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help A Tampon Go In Step 7

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 7:46:49 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Use Your Finger

The idea of putting your finger inside the vagina may not be very appealing. But before you skip this blog post in disgust, just hear me out.

You've been having trouble putting in a tampon, despite getting familiar with the landscape down there, trying different positions, relaxing your pelvic floor (vaginal) muscles, lubricating the tampon like crazy, picking the best time of month to practise and managing any negative emotions.

Maybe the "ick factor" is still there, and putting your finger in your vagina is the last thing you feel like doing.

But trust me: if you have got to this point, and haven't had any success yet, practising with your finger could be the "game-changer" you need.

When I was a young teenager struggling with periods, I remember something my sister said to me:

"You should be able to put your own finger in the vagina. That is just something every girl should be comfortable doing."

My sister must have been all of sixteen. Still, these wise words have stayed with me, and I think of them now every time a patient tells me she can't put her finger in her vagina. Or won't.

There's a few things we girls learn as we grow up. We learn to wipe front to back. We learn not to wash the vulva with soap. We learn to count the days between our periods to give us the best chance of predicting when the next period is coming. We learn to feel our breasts on the first day of the month, to recognise what's normal for us, so we can be alert to any changes that might need to be checked.

These are all skills we need as women.

And this is an important one to add to the list: to comfortably insert your finger in your vagina. This is an important way to have knowledge of your own body. It empowers you by making you familiar with yourself. Don't forget, your vaginal muscles are "The Guardians of the Gate". They need to know when to guard, and when to be at ease. If they don't have a chance to be at ease, they will overreact by being in "guarding mode" all the time. They will try to "close the gate" even for a light breeze.

Your finger is the equivalent of "a light breeze". Allowing the gates to open for a light breeze is a starting point for choosing to open the gates for other visitors (for example, someone else's finger, or penis, or a speculum to have an important health check or Pap smear).

So now I'd like to suggest you go back to Step I, Look and You Will Find, and repeat all the steps with the aim of inserting your finger in the vagina.

Three more things.

Cut your nails (obvious). Wash your hands before and after (double obvious).

And/or - wear latex gloves (if not allergic). No need to wear gloves of course - but for some women this creates the mental barrier they need to give it a try. Over time, progress to no gloves.

Has being able to insert your finger into your vagina helped you? I'd love to hear from you in the Comments.

The next post in this series (an 18+ post - please get parental permission if under 18) - can be found here.

 

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

The Alien Concept of Vaginal Dilators Part 2

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:57:36 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Last post I talked about the concept of vaginal dilators, which are an ingredient in the success recipe for many women experiencing vaginismus and painful sex. (Not everyone, mind you, so be cautious if self-treating, or if your treating clinician doesn’t seem experienced or flexible in their treatment).

I observed that many women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

They may find them alien, weird, confronting, distasteful or even distressing. And particularly when these feelings are intense, they need to be respected and "coaxed around" rather than repressed or forced through.

Now, I admit I am rather blasé about the concept of dilators due to ten years of clinical exposure. But I do take great care to ease people into the idea. I gauge their readiness, and raise the idea when I judge the time is right. I explain how helpful they are going to be, and emphasise the positive. I show them a picture before the real-life object.

(By the way, this is just like phobia therapy. I trained myself to look at photos of spiders before observing real-life ones. It may seem a dramatic comparison, but actually, anything you have negative feelings about can respond to a similar technique used in phobias called “graded exposure” or “desensitisation”. More about this in another blog post – but you can find a detailed plan for “graded exposure” to sex in my e-book Outsmart Your Pain, which you can download and start reading immediately here).

Though I use sensitivity when introducing the concept of vaginal dilators, I am not able to diffuse the apprehensiveness completely. I see the change that comes over women’s faces as they regard the picture of the dilators. Overcoming this reluctance to try them is sometimes the biggest hurdle in resolving the vaginismus and attaining the goal of enjoyable, pain-free sex.

stressedwoman

 

This got me thinking. How can we make the idea of using the dilators less unappealing?

This might be the key to success!

This series of blogs, therefore, focuses on strategies to make using dilators more appealing. Enjoy! And remember, there is a lot more to achieving painless, enjoyable sex than using dilators. A system of “graded exposure” to increased “sensory input” to the vulva and vagina is available in the Appendix of my e-book, Outsmart Your Pain, recommended for all women with vaginismus, painful sex, vulvodynia and persistent pelvic pain.

A kind of disclaimer:

Whether you need to use vaginal dilators at all is another question that cannot be answered by this blog post. Whether vaginal dilators are the best solution for you right now is an even more complicated question, which you might like to discuss with a clinician experienced in treating vaginismus and other issues of painful sex. And finding an experienced clinician in this field, who is right for you and the place you are at, may be the greatest challenge of all! This final issue is a topic for another blog post.

 

 

Last post I talked about the concept of vaginal dilators, which are an ingredient in the success recipe for many women experiencing vaginismus and painful sex. (Not everyone, mind you, so be cautious if self-treating, or if your treating clinician doesn’t seem experienced or flexible in their treatment).

I observed that many women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

They may find them alien, weird, confronting, distasteful or even distressing. And particularly when these feelings are intense, they need to be respected and "coaxed around" rather than repressed or forced through.

Now, I admit I am rather blasé about the concept of dilators due to ten years of clinical exposure. But I do take great care to ease people into the idea. I gauge their readiness, and raise the idea when I judge the time is right. I explain how helpful they are going to be, and emphasise the positive. I show them a picture before the real-life object.

(By the way, this is just like phobia therapy. I trained myself to look at photos of spiders before observing real-life ones. It may seem a dramatic comparison, but actually, anything you have negative feelings about can respond to a similar technique used in phobias called “graded exposure” or “desensitisation”. More about this in another blog post – but you can find a detailed plan for “graded exposure” to sex in my e-book Outsmart Your Pain, which you can download and start reading immediately here).

Though I use sensitivity when introducing the concept of vaginal dilators, I am not able to diffuse the apprehensiveness completely. I see the change that comes over women’s faces as they regard the picture of the dilators. Overcoming this reluctance to try them is sometimes the biggest hurdle in resolving the vaginismus and attaining the goal of enjoyable, pain-free sex.

stressedwoman

 

This got me thinking.

How can we make the idea of using the dilators less unappealing?

This might be the key to success!

This series of blogs, therefore, focuses on strategies to make using dilators more appealing. Enjoy! And remember, there is a lot more to achieving painless, enjoyable sex than using dilators. A system of “graded exposure” to increased “sensory input” to the vulva and vagina is available in the Appendix of my e-book, Outsmart Your Pain, recommended for all women with vaginismus, painful sex, vulvodynia and persistent pelvic pain.

Watch this space for the first blog in the series.

A kind of disclaimer:

Whether you need to use vaginal dilators at all is another question that cannot be answered by this blog post. Whether vaginal dilators are the best solution for you right now is an even more complicated question, which you might like to discuss with a clinician experienced in treating vaginismus and other issues of painful sex. And finding an experienced clinician in this field, who is right for you and the place you are at, may be the greatest challenge of all! This final issue is a topic for another blog post.

 

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

A Roadmap to Choosing Contraception

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:07:07 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Simplifying the Contraception Decision - At A Glance

For a brief explanation of the flow chart, click here.

For a fuller explanation of the theory behind the development of this flow chart, start here.

infographic10-choosingtherightcontraceptionforyou

A Guide to Getting Off The Pill Step 5 - The Final Step!

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 9:54:04 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

So now you’re almost ready to make the decision to get off the Pill and launch yourself into a Pill-free life!

Or maybe you're not convinced, and need some more guidelines for making your decision.

How do you actually make your decision about which contraception is right for you?


I’d like to give you some guidelines as to how to choose another form of contraception, from all the information we’ve discussed so far. A kind of road map of contraception, if you will.

If you are still not sure about getting off the Pill, this road map will help you decide. Who knows? The Pill might be your best option at present. But at least you’re making a more informed choice.

Before you look at the road map of contraception, take note that it may not all make perfect sense on first read.

Unless you’ve read this blog series on Getting Off the Pill very carefully, some of the terms may be unfamiliar to you.

So use the pointers below the flow chart to help you as you’re looking through it:

infographic10-choosingtherightcontraceptionforyou

A few pointers for when using the flow chart:

Complete, permanent and reversible contraception

The terms complete, permanent and reversible are used loosely, except for hysterectomy and total abstinence, which are probably the only ones that truly make pregnancy impossible.

Ethical and personal considerations

Along the way, you’ll be guided by your own philosophical, moral, ethical, and personal compass. Ultimately, no one can tell you what’s right for you except you. This goes for all the steps, even though I have only included it in a more obvious section on the bottom left, when deciding among hysterectomy, periodic abstinence, and tubal ligation. I particularly included the “ethical/personal” dimension here because of many women telling me over the years that they objected to the idea of a hysterectomy (for example, for uterine prolapse or painful periods) if it wasn’t completely necessary.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Be aware that there are no methods of contraception that are 100% protection against sexually transmitted infections. (Take particular care not to misinterpret my simplified guideline for if “STI focus is needed”.) Be very clear as to whether this needs to be your focus or not.

The Reality of Reliability

“Reliability focus” is also an over-simplified concept. As I said, no form of contraception is 100% reliable. I have differentiated the three of Mirena IUD, Implanon implant and Depo Provera injection from the Pill not because of the theoretical effectiveness – the Pill is right up there at 99% - but because it happens that women forget the Pill, lose effectiveness due to illness etc and lack protection, ending up with an unintentional pregnancy. Many women have told me they chose Depo Provera, Implanon or the Mirena IUD for this reason – they can’t trust themselves with the Pill.

Natural Family Planning Methods

Finally, I have differentiated the Billings Ovulation Method from other forms of “natural family planning”, as they’re known, (Symptothermal Method, the Creighton Model and Natural Fertility Management) because there is more research on Billings and often a wider availability of teachers. If you choose a natural family planning method, don’t do it from a book, website and especially not an app! Learning with a teacher is a must if you want the high effectiveness rating possible with these methods.

So there you have it! Enjoy finding your own answer to the contraception question. I would love to hear which contraception you have chosen for yourself right now and why. Comment below, or on my Facebook page Equilibria, or find me on Twitter at @AlyssaTait1.

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help A Tampon Go In Step 6

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 at 7:44:48 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Don't Be Too Squeamish

You have been trying hard to use all the right tricks to insert a tampon. You have become famiilar with your anatomy. You are using the best position. You are becoming aware of what your muscles are doing to "close up" your vagina and to "allow it to open".

But somehow, you seem to be hitting a roadblock. There is some obstacle in the way. It just feels like it won't go in, and quite frankly, it's starting to gross you out.

Sometimes this is exactly the problem.

Sometimes, inserting a tampon feels, as one of my patients memorably described it, like "touching your eyeball".

There is no better way to make a muscle contract than fear. What does this have to do with tampons?

Well, remember, the vagina "opens" and "closes" due to the actions of the vaginal muscles: the Guardians of the Gate. The Guardians of the Gate are given their commands by the Empress - the brain. When the empress is not happy, she commands the Guardians to "close the gate"!

In fact, any negative emotions will cause a reflex "closing command" from the Empress. She is rather

like the Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...the slightest annoyance results in a

knee-jerk hysterical reaction, and next thing you know she is shrieking "Off With Their Heads!"

queenofhearts

(By the way, the Empress – the brain, that is - doesn't have to be this irritable. There are many ways to train her to be more relaxed, more like a pussy cat than a sabre-toothed tiger. But here I want to focus on emotions).

To get the Empress (that was the brain) in a good mood, so she doesn't send a wild command to the Guardians of the Gate to "CLOSE!" just because there is a mild breeze, you need to channel some positive emotions her way.

This means working on re-interpreting what you might be feeling.

If you feel squeamish, read this as a sense of adventure faced with the unfamiliarity of the territory.

If you feel frustrated, sense this as fuel to accomplish your task.

If you feel tense, interpret this as power.

I'm not asking you to deny what you are feeling - simply read it in a different language.

Knowledge is power, and practice brings a sense of ease. You may need to practice every day for a week even looking at the area, so it starts to become more familiar. This is Mind Work, just as important as Body Work!

Practice your Mind Work before your period is due, and before you will be using tampons.

This is like an explorer going on a reconnaissance mission before the real thing.

Understand that the vagina and vulva are resilient and strong. You can't hurt this by doing this. They are an incredibly resilient part of a woman's body. To quote the great actress Betty White:

bettywhitegrowsomeballs

Keep working your mind - or put another way, make it work for you!

Go to the seventh blog post in this series by clicking here.

To get started on your Mind Work straight away, download my book Outsmart Your Pain, available here.

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Get Ready to Shimmy: Belly Dancing For The Pelvic Floor

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:03:16 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Ever been drawn to the exotic world of belly dancing? Feel intrigued but a bit scared at the same time?

You may have some of the same questions I did.

My last post brainstormed some options for pelvic floor-safe exercise that aren't boring. So here, as promised, is the first in a series that goes into these fabulous options in more detail, especially from the point of view of the pelvic floor.

In this post I interview Lorelle Hawes, experienced belly dancing teacher and physiotherapist.

We talk about the reasons it's a pelvic floor safe exercise, when to start post-partum, and the lure of the music!

Can you summarise your background – how long have you been teaching, and how did you get into belly dancing?

I first tried belly dancing back in 1990, my final year of physiotherapy. The UQ Sports Association was running an 8 week course and a friend convinced me to come along. She dropped out after a couple of lessons, but I was instantly hooked! I think I taught my first class in about 1993, but didn’t teach regularly until about 1997. For the last 5 years, I have only taught as a ‘relief” teacher and try to keep my hand in by attending classes when I can. lorellehawesbellydancing

What do you love most about belly dancing?

I would have to say the music, and how your movements are intimately guided by the music and the emotions that it evokes. Whether it’s plaintive vocals, energetic drum rolls or complex orchestral arrangements – your body has an answer!

"Your body has an answer!"

What advantages does belly dancing have over other forms of dancing – and exercise in general?

Belly dancing doesn’t feel like exercise. It is fun, creative, sensual and expressive. There are many different Middle Eastern dance styles taught under the umbrella of belly dance so you never get bored. Belly dance is accepting of all body types and ages, so it is accessible to a wide range of women. Just in case anyone is wondering, you don’t need to expose your belly in a belly dance class  - but of course you can if you want to!

"Belly dance is accepting of all body types and ages"

What makes belly dancing pelvic floor-friendly?

On the whole, belly dance is low impact and you can pace yourself within the class environment. It is a woman friendly environment and the pelvic floor is often referenced during a class.

You don't need to expose your belly in a belly dance class - but of course you can if you want to!"

Any warm up exercises a woman should learn before launching herself into the world of belly dancing?

Not really, a good teacher will always start with a warm up and break down new movements slowly.

Is there any special care a woman should take if she has a prolapse?

Yes. There are some folkloric styles that involve some light jumping, so be careful with that. Also, there are some movements that can potentially bear down on a prolapse if the pelvic floor is not responsive. For example strong undulations/belly rolls; sharp hip movements and vigorous shimmies. Ideally, the pelvic floor co-contracts with all of these movements to counter any downward pressure, but if you have a weak pelvic floor you should ease off the intensity with which you perform these moves. There may be some moves you will want to avoid if you feel downward pressure.

"Ideally, the pelvic floor co-contracts with all these movements"

How soon can a woman start belly dancing postpartum – if she has never done it before?

I would say 3- 6 months.  I will never forget one of my past students turning up to class 4 days after having had her baby! That was definitely not on my advice! She was so passionate about it and couldn’t bear to miss anything.

Does a woman need to think about her pelvic floor while belly dancing?

If you do have some pelvic floor weakness then take care with the above mentioned movements. When you are learning new movements, you should be cued to draw in your lower abdominals frequently during class – take that as a prompt to also draw up the pelvic floor. However, once you have the basics under your belt, you should be able to enjoy dancing freely.

"You should be able to enjoy dancing freely"

Some critics say belly dancing might over-emphasise the global abdominals. What are your thoughts on this?

Compared to a typical gym or Pilates class where you might be performing curl ups and table top exercises, belly dance is far less focussed on the global abdominals. A lot of belly dance movements are generated through the legs only to look like an abdominal action. We do use the oblique muscles (and quadratus lumborum) quite a lot  to achieve different movements, but there is usually no resistance, including from gravity, involved.

"A lot of belly dance movements are generating through the legs only to look like an abdominal action."

How might a woman find a good belly dancing teacher?

It is trial and error to find someone whose teaching style you enjoy and are comfortable with. There are no regulations governing belly dance teaching. I would advise to ring around and ask the teacher how many years she has been teaching, how many people in class (ideally less than 20) and whether she has any group exercise teaching qualifications. If you have a prolapse, let her know, so she is aware you may pace yourself or modify some movements to suit.

I must admit, I would not recommend belly dance to women who have no pelvic floor contraction. There are many moves where you would hope there is automatic co-contraction happening.  However, compared to sports and most gym classes it is PF friendly.

Thanks for the opportunity to be part of your blog!

Thank you Lorelle, and shimmy on!

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!


 

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

The Alien Concept of Vaginal Dilators Part 1

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:03:41 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Or, “You Want Me To Put What Where?”

vaginaldilators

In my experience, vaginal dilators can really freak people out.

The idea of an inanimate object designed to be inserted into the vagina to help with difficulty with sex (e.g. vaginismus) can be very confronting. This is understandable! I’d like to go through some of the reasons people find the idea of vaginal dilators unappealing, and how we can work around these feelings.

But first, what are vaginal dilators?


Vaginal dilators, as you may know, are a nifty invention for conditions such as vaginismus. (They can also be used for other conditions, but we will focus on vaginismus for now). Vaginal dilators are a little family of plastic, glass or silicone tubes in different sizes, which help you get used to the feeling of something going into (and being in) the vagina. They often fit inside each other like a rather charming set of Russian nesting dolls (Babushka dolls).

russiannestingdolls

But that’s as far as the comparison goes with something friendly and adorable like a doll. Most of my patients with vaginismus find dilators rather clinical and “medical”. When they arrive in the mail, they take one look at them and push them back in the packet. They often bring them in to me in the original bag, still fully wrapped in the bubble wrap. They just can’t face them.

At the very least, women feel apprehensive about using dilators.

At worst, they may be physically repulsed by them. This is understandable – but can actually form a big part of the problem. Getting to the point where it doesn’t feel offputting to use dilators is a major milestone and, I find, usually means the finish line is in sight. While there may be that bit of work to do yet, it’s a fairly predictable path to the end goal of successful intercourse at this point.

But the negative feelings about using dilators represent an age-old challenge to our nervous system, and a major activator of the stress response : threat.

Any negative emotion is a threat to your sense of well-being, your sense that “all is right in your world”. Threat is a major activator of the stress system. Activation of the stress system sets off a protective reaction in your muscles, promoting vaginismus…and thus the vicious cycle continues.

So addressing and working through this sense of threat is essential in overcoming vaginismus, and learning to be okay with your dilators is one of your major tasks.

You can start working through a self-help program to resolve this "threat situation" by downloading my e-book Outsmart Your Pain. You can start that straight away here.

If this is your experience, you will be most interested to follow up with Part 2 of this post.

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help A Tampon Go In Step 5

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:06:59 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Pick the Best Time of Month to Practise

Last post I mentioned that using lots of lubricant on the tampon helps when it feels like the tampon just won't go in. This may seem obvious, but most women I speak to haven't tried it.

So here is a second tip that may seem obvious, but again, many women are not doing.

Pick the right time of month to practise putting in a tampon in order to maximise your chance of success.

(Of course, some of the steps I have talked about can be helpful at any time. Exploring the territory of the vulva, for example, is best all month round when you are not bleeding, as it can make things easier to see.)

But once you are up to actually practising putting the tampon in, it is best to practise this the heaviest days of your period. You want the flow to be well and truly flowing. You can't ride the rapids unless there's some decent flow in the river - you'll end up getting stuck on the rocks!

For many women, the days of heaviest flow are days 1 and 2. (Day 1 is the first day of your period.) For others, the flow starts slowly, and day 1 is too "dry". For these women, it might be days 2 and 3. For lots of women I know, the flow is slowing right down by day 3, so that might not be your best bet.

Another thing to keep in mind is discomfort. If you have an enormous amount of pain with your period, you may want to try before this really sets in. Or, you may want to have a good amount of pain relief on board. Otherwise, your body can feel a bit defensive. It's already in pain, and it's having to experience something new it is apprehensive about. It's better for your body to feel comfortable in order to "trust" the new experience of putting in a tampon.

You can learn more about learning to trust your body, and retraining your brain when it comes to pain, in my e-book Outsmart Your Pain.

Countless patients who use tampons have told me they have trouble using them later in their period when the flow starts to dry up. (Stick with pads on the whole from that point, I say.)

But the point is that if women who are able to use tampons have some difficulty when the flow eases, then start when you have a decent flow going.

To keep reading about more ways to make inserting tampons easier, watch this space for the next post about getting over your squeamishness.

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Best Ways to Help A Tampon Go In Step 4

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:05:30 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Lubricate the Tampon Like Crazy

By nature, tampons are not the easiest things to get in the vagina. This is because they are usually made of cotton or a similar material - in order to be absorbent - which creates friction.

So here's a simple way to make it easier.

Get rid of the friction. Make it slippery.

Remember your childhood Slip'n'Slide in the backyard? Just the hose running on it wasn't that much fun. The way to really increase the slippery factor was to put detergent on it. But wait! Obviously, don't do that in this situation!

So how do you make the tampon as slippery as possible?
Easy. Lots and lots of lubricant.

What kind of lubricant?

If you already own some regular water-based lubricant, just use that. This is usually known as "personal lubricant" and comes in brands like Ansell and KY Jelly. Whatever you do, choose one with no fragrance, at the very least.

But for the best, most natural and healthy option, try the Yes organic water-based personal lubricant. This is the only one I sell at my practice, because I think it's gentle and respectful to a girl's body. You can purchase it on-line easily.

But most importantly, just put lots on.

Make it really, really slippery. Believe me, this makes a difference.

(By the way, that goes for sex as well. It's almost impossible to have too much lubricant. Always err on the side of too much lubricant rather than too little. Especially if you are having pain with sex, you feel dry, or you have been told you have vaginismus or vulvodynia).

And don't forget to RELAX your pelvic floor muscles, which you know how to do from the last post. It might also make it easier to try a tampon with applicator first, as it's smoother and more friction-free than a non-applicator tampon, and choose your best position.

So there it is: simple but effective. Put lots of lubricant on the tampon. And don't forget to try at the best time of month - more on this in the next blog post.

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Pelvic Floor-Safe Exercise - The Ten Most Non-Boring Options!

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2:08:01 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

We hear it over and over again: exercise that's safe for your pelvic floor is walking, cycling, and swimming.

And actually, cycling here probably means boring, easy cycling on flat (as we know that standing cycling puts enormous pressures on the pelvic floor). Or stationary cycling. Stationary cycling so predictable and unchanging that you could do it in your sleep (or that it puts you to sleep). Stationary cycling that may as well be stationary.

(Of course, I am exaggerating. Stationary cycling CAN be made challenging and interesting. But if you find it so, this post is not for you.)

So without a stationary bike, or in the absence of living on top of a plateau or a vast, unchanging plain, we are down to walking and swimming being our options for pelvic floor - safe exercise.

Boring!

Now, perhaps you love walking. Perhaps you find it stimulating and regenerating, and it fulfills both your physical and mental health requirements of exercise. But if that is the case, you will probably not be reading this blog post (or will stop reading it at this point).

So let's think laterally. What are some other options...

...for exercise that is a safer option for your pelvic floor, whether you have (or are at risk for) incontinence or prolapse? And/or, you have ever had a baby or been pregnant and actually want to exercise again? And (rather more self-indulgently) what is my favorite option?

Let's look at the requirements for pelvic floor safe exercise.

We are looking for

Low impact.

No excessively high intra-abdominal pressures generated.

This generally translates into no jumping, no running, no heavy weights, no sit-ups or crunches, and no uncontrolled/unexpected movements.

Sadly, this seems to rule out all forms of running, jogging, racing and fun-runs, virtually all team sports, most gym classes, most standard personal training sessions, boxing, and most styles of dancing, whether Latin, ballroom, modern, ballet or just leaping around the room to your favorite opera or hard rock album.

I would like to interject in my own blog post here. (That is one of the major benefits of blogging - that no one can stop you interjecting). I am not saying that all of these restrictions apply at all times for all women at risk of pelvic floor problems.

In fact, despite the excellent intentions and professional expertise behind these standard pelvic floor safe exercise recommendations, I believe that the best action any woman can take is to have an individualised assessement of her exercise "risk" via a pelvic floor examination with an experienced pelvic floor physiotherapist that offers this expertise.

(Ask your pelvic floor physiotherapist how specific they can be about your exercise risks upon having an assessment, and keep searching until you find one who will offer you more than the general recommendations). Individualised pelvic floor assessments have evolved in the last few years with pelvic floor physiotherapists undergoing further research-based training to give you much more individualised exercise advice than ever before. How, you ask? Ve have vays, my friend, ve have vays!

But until you have had an individual assessment, your safest non-walking, non-swimming options which are possibly the least boring, include:

Tai Chi.

Yoga.

Belly dancing.

Rock climbing.

Pole Fitness.

Scootering.

Skateboarding.

Surfing.

Rollerskating.

Rollerblading (i.e. inline skating).

Please don't take this list absolutely at face value. All return to exercise - and, especially, starting a new exercise regime - should ideally be advised upon by your pelvic floor physiotherapist and based on individualised assessment, that is, assessment of YOU.

More about these fantastic options for your new exercise life in a future blog post.

And I plan to play favourites here. The final option - rollerblading - being my favourite option, will have its own blog post devoted to it.

Prepare to kiss boring exercise goodbye!

Any other suggestions for fun pelvic floor-safe exercise? Let's have a conversation about it!

Liked this post? Subscribe to our newsletter and get loads more useful info!

photoforwebsitesmallest

About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter
Page 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14