The aim is not to stop moving or to punish you by demanding you screech to a halt with every activity you love. Nor is the aim to instil a fear of exercise or movement. Our bodies are made to move and thrive on being active, but you do have to ask: Why do you leak? How far advanced is the underlying cause?
Once you’ve answered these two questions you can, along with your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, decide on how to progress toward finding a balance between your activities and a reconditioning program. For example, you may need to stop running daily for a time but a few shorter runs in a week are ok to keep you feeling good while still seeing progress in your reconditioning. A power walk instead of a run, or body weight exercises instead of heavy weight lifting for some period of time could make the difference between losing your sanity through inactivity and just making the problem worse. For others it may mean switching completely to reconditioning mode and then slowly progressing back into their exercise routine. The options are endless and very specific to each persons particular needs. Did you know a squat, deadlift, lunge, bridge and wall-sit might be part of your program in helping you recondition your leaking, prolapse, mummy tummy or Diastasis recti?
A thought to consider is that it is not about how hard you exercise or how many hours a week you exercise, but rather the quality of your movement that matters. Gray Cook says “First move well, then move often.” Julie Wiebe puts it like this: “ If you leak when you run, guess what, you are leaking more than just urine, you are leaking energy and athletic performance…”
I am learning more and more that real recovery depends on establishing quality, healthy movement patterns. There is a lot to consider with healthy movement patterns but at the basis of it all is integration between good alignment/ posture, healthy breathing patterns, and core function. Body awareness is another key element. When something hurts or when you leak it is your body’s way of telling you there is a dysfunctional pattern and it needs addressing. No amount of leaking is ok.
I have had many women asking about my fitness classes that are supportive of pelvic floor health and part way through the conversation they realize that between my classes and their physio they might need to slow down and not run 2 marathons in a row or workout at full speed 7 days a week. This scares them so much. I understand this. I have to move otherwise I feel terrible and for so many of us our running or weight training or daily fitness class is our special time for ourselves. But consider this, if you don’t address it now, you will have to later. There is no escaping. The leaking or pain won’t go away unless you change what you do and how you do it.
Yes, reconditioning can be a little frustrating as it demands focusing into your body rather than escaping through your fitness, but once you honour and acknowledge your body’s needs you will be back to moving but better and with more freedom than before. I have noticed that there is a huge educational part to rehab fitness. I find that without fail clients move better because their bodies know better. So, please don’t be afraid to listen to the leak or the ache. Your body will thank you and even if it means slowing down for a bit, the freedom of less or no leaking, or resolving pain, will be worth it in the long run. Focus on the big picture and follow your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist’s recommendation.
Wishing you all a fit and wholesome summer!