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.
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
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:
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!