Pelvic floor muscle strength is a key factor in overall health. An adequately functioning pelvic floor works to maintain the integrity of the internal organs. The aging process is also a factor that can negatively effect internal organ integrity. Strengthening the pelvic floor will enhance all areas of activity and functioning in daily life. Techniques for assisting in this endeavor are (readily) available.
Pelvic Floor Integrity is the support provided for the pelvic viscera (bladder, bowel and uterus) and maintaining functionality of these organs. The network of pelvic floor structures (skeletal and striated muscles, support and suspensory ligaments, fascial coverings and an intricate neural network) work in a highly integrated manner. This integrated functioning is how the pelvic floor is functionally maintained. Strengthening this area involves conscious contractions of the structures so that there is a ‘drawing up or lifting’ sensation.
Aging can deleteriously affect pelvic floor health. An overt symptom of pelvic floor ‘weakness’ is O(ver) A(ctive) B(ladder). Several large population-based studies have investigated the prevalence of urgency and O A B in adults. All found high prevalence rates (ranging from 10.8 to 17.4%) for both men and women (see Table 1).
OAB can be relegated through weight loss and exercise. Lack of movement typically increases with age. Recent studies have demonstrated a correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and increased risk of urinary incontinence in women . Similarly, obesity is strongly correlated with pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence. Patients with lifelong physical activity have significantly lower risk of Urinary Incontinence.
Prevalence of overactive bladder with age for both men and women.
The pelvic floor structures are needed to maintain continence and to prevent (organ) prolapse. When the pelvic floor muscles become weakened, it can cause a loss of bladder or bowel control and can increase the risk of prolapse. Examples include things like childbirth, heavy lifting, chronic coughing . . . anything that can put a lot of pressure on the area. A compromised pelvic floor can also put strain on other muscles (the pelvic floor is connected to many other muscles in the body!). This causes them to work overtime to make up for the lack of support in the pelvic floor. This imbalance can cause pain in other areas of the body too (lower back pain or hip pain for instance)
There are activities that one can employ to strengthen the pelvic floor structures.
These movements should be approved by a health care practitioner.
Although the need to strengthen the pelvic floor is usually a challenge faced by women, men (may) also need to address weakness in the pelvic floor.