Physio Fanatics
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    The Pelvic Floor - breaching the taboo.


    What is the pelvic floor?

    Your pelvic floor is the “hammock” of muscles situated in your pelvis. It is this group of muscles that support your pelvic organs, help with your bladder and bowel control and can have an impact on your sexual function and satisfaction.


    What are the symptoms of pelvic floor problems?

    Problems with your pelvic floor can manifest in many different ways, from not being able to laugh for fear of literally “wetting yourself”, to not enjoying or getting satisfaction from sexual intercourse (male and female). You may think that your level of pelvic floor dysfunction is minor and can be ignored, but how many times do you not have another cup of coffee because you will need to go to the loo again, or do you avoid running or jumping in case you have an accident?


    It is, in most instances, a taboo subject. No one wants to admit to having any problems in that area. We all put it down to a specific cause and then just deal with it. This is a huge problem the world over. However it is becoming more recognised and discussed and there are specialists who deal solely with pelvic floor dysfunction and its treatment.


    What are the causes of weak pelvic floor muscles?

    The UK Chartered Society of Physiotherapy lists several possible causes of weakness in the pelvic floor:

    -          pregnancy and childbirth

    -          after prostate/pelvic surgery

    -          long term conditions or health problems such as a persistent cough or multiple sclerosis

    -          obesity

    -          constipation or persistent straining to empty the bowel

    -          menopause/hormonal changes

    -          ageing

    -          high impact sports

    -          repeated heavy lifting


    What can I do?

    In most instances a few simple exercises can help with your problem. It may take you up to 6 months to feel a significant difference, but it is well worth persevering.


    1)      Imagine you have a full bladder and are trying to do up a tight pair of jeans. You will feel as though you are lifting and squeezing your inside. Men may be aware of a slight lifting of the scrotum.

    2)      Breathing normally hold this squeeze for 10 seconds.

    3)      Move on to 10 rapid squeezes with a 10 second hold for the last squeeze.


    As with all exercise they are easier to stick to if you include them in your day, so whenever you see the colour red (traffic lights, fire extinguishers) practice this exercise. Make sure that you keep the exercises up as you may find that when you stop all your problems return.


    There are a couple of extremely useful websites I have used for information, .


    This article has been compiled as a guideline only. If you think you have a pelvic floor problem or you are concerned make sure you consult your Doctor. If doing these exercises gives you any pain or discomfort stop doing them and consult your Doctor.


    Move for Health.


    There is a growing recognition around the world that an increasing number of today’s children are at risk of becoming overweight. Physiotherapists and dieticians know that many of these children are likely to remain overweight as adults unless they exercise and eat well.


    As parents we all want our children to be happy and healthy. We aim to make our children’s lives as easy and enjoyable as possible, and ours too. This sometimes means we take short cuts. Life has been made easier by cars, computers and convenience foods. All of these can result in our children doing less exercise and eating food that is less ‘healthy’.


    Getting our children to be active instils good habits for the future. Encourage your child to do at least sixty minutes of moderate intensity activity every day. Their heart rate should increase but they should still be able to carry out a conversation. These sixty minutes can be broken down into fifteen minute slots initially. Teaching children to enjoy regular physical activity means they are more likely to stick to these good habits when they grow up.


    We are generally very fortunate in Botswana that our children have the opportunity to be physically active at school, but teaching them to be active at home instils good habits for the future.


    Some ideas to encourage your child to be active at home:


    -          Get a map of your local area and plan a weekly walk

    -          Teach your child to ride a bike so that you can cycle together

    -          Enter a fun event, like a short run, swim or cycle together

    -          If your child likes televised sport find a local club where they can try it

    -          Walk to the shops, or park further away form the shops and walk to them. This has the added advantage that you can start to teach them road safety too.

    -          Go for a swim

    -          Dance with them, turn the music up and dance around the house!

    -          Teach them some games you played in the school yard as a child


    It is also a good idea to encourage your child to have good posture as this reduces the risk of injury and encourages the use of the correct muscles in any given activity. Generally a child will have good posture, but bad habits can set in. Give your child a school bag that goes over both shoulders and is carried on their back, this will mean even carrying of a load and allow them to keep good posture. Talk to them about sitting correctly. At school the teacher will encourage this, but watch how they do their homework or eat dinner. Make sure they sit close to the table, sitting at the back of their chair and up tall.


    Teaching your child good habits now gives them the best chance of good habits later on in life!