PELVIC PROBLEM – CAN I EXERCISE?
Separated abdominals; pelvic organ prolapse (POP); urinary incontinence; exercising while pregnant. These terms may sound scary to some.
Research has shown that exercise is good for ALL of us.
It is the ‘pill’ for good health, reducing the risk of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, depression and dementia by up to 30%. The risk of breast cancer can be reduced by 20% while hip fractures can be reduced by 68%. That’s an easy pill to swallow!
In the case of separated abdominals (diastasis recti) due to pregnancy, there is no research to show which is the best or worst exercise for this.
Physiotherapists do know that human tissue will adapt to the demands placed on it, and with specific techniques, they know how the tissue can be trained to adapt to the increased demands without injury. This includes helping people change their beliefs and feel secure about what is an appropriate or safe exercise. The ‘SCAR’ acronym– STRONG, CABAPABLE, ADAPTABLE and RESILIENT- is the foundation that physiotherapists use to help create that positive change. In the case of diastasis recti, we can help women understand how to exercise or work with the best possible control of her abdominal muscles or in the case of POP, work the pelvic floor muscles.
The 2019 Canadian Recommendations on Exercise for Pregnant Women has found that once cleared for any contraindications to exercise by their GP or Obstetrician, pregnant women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise over at least 3 sessions per week. In these sessions, at least 2 sessions should have whole body strengthening. These guidelines are actually the same for adults age 19-64. For pregnant women, the sessions should take into consideration required body positions, avoiding those activities that have a high chance of falling or contact sports. As well, avoiding environments of high humidity or high altitude if living in low altitudes and scuba diving.
In the interest of women’s health, physiotherapists can provide support, education and evidence-based exercise prescription to help them pursue their needs and desires.
Patricia Sennett, PT
Patricia is a physiotherapist at the Human Performance Centre. She has an interest in female pelvic floor problems. You can contact her at 738-8299