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Harborne • Kings Heath • Solihull
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originally published: January, 2016

birmingham health physiotherapy
Female Athletic Pelvis

Are you a sports woman in Ballet, Performing arts, gymnastics, athletics, Olympic or power lifting? Are you a Tri-Athlete or runner or maybe you enjoy Crossfit , boot camp or Military fitness? Maybe you have recently returned to sport after having a baby.

Whether you have had children or not you have a pelvic floor which works with your rib cage, breathing mechanism and abdominals to support your lumbar spine and pelvis. If you do sports especially at a high level your Pelvic floor is very very important.

We know the incidence of stress incontinence in the general public is 1/3 and has been found to be much higher in some elite sports. People performing at elite level sport tend not to have had children so this relates to you also even if you haven’t had kids. Ok there are exceptions like Paula Radcliffe and Jessica Ennis but they are the exception.

Kids or no Kids: Your Pelvic floor is important for sports.

gemma pull up 

If you have any of the following it may mean you have a pelvic floor problem

  1. Leakage of urine while training or performing (THIS IS NOT NORMAL ). This may progress to leakage on more normal everyday activities.
  2. Rectal symptoms ( opps!) usually release of gas i.e farting on activities. NOT NORMAL ALSO
  3. Doming of the abdomen on training or lifting post natally and a definite gap in the abdominals. This is a RECTUS DIASTASIS or TUMMY GAP that needs addressing.
  4. Feeling of heaviness or pressure in the vagina. This can often mean you may be developing or have a prolapse. DEF NOT NORMAL
  5. Pain in the pelvis, groin, lumbar spine, hips on training.
  1. Symptoms usually pain that are not improving with traditional physiotherapy or treatment.
  2. Performance being affected or reaching a plateau with training or competing due to a spinal or hip / pelvis problem that hasn’t responded to treatment.
  3. Hip and groin pain or back pain that other treatment such as surgery or injections haven’t helped.
  4. Pain on sexual activity that is getting worse with increased training.

How will Specialist Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Differ that other treatment I’ve had?

A lot is the basic answer.

You will have a discussion about your symptoms and how they relate to your urinary control and whether you have any pelvic, groin, vaginal symptoms. You will also discuss whether your symptoms are affecting your sexual activity or activities like using a tampon.

gemma 3

What will the Assessment involve!

Yes, Your pelvic floor will be examined but this initially doesn’t involve an internal examination. Initially your pelvic floor can be reliably assessed using ultrasound imaging by your physio. This is a little bit like the scanning that is done during pregnancy although without the baby bit !

We will see how well you can contract the fast twitch part of your pelvic floor ( Usain Bolt bit) and the endurance part ( Mo Farah bit) . Like your calf muscles both fibres are important especially if you are a sports person.

We will also look at how well you can work your Mo and Usain fibres while doing weigh bearing activities such as squatting, lunging, jumping, landing etc. This is dynamic pelvic floor assessment and relates to your sport.

Lots of time is also spent seeing how your pelvic floor works with your abdominals , hip and breathing muscles. This is where the problem tends to be i.e they don’t work well together.

We also look at your hip, lumbar spine (low back ) and pelvic joints and your rib cage to make sure it’s all moving and working well.

gemma 2

Will I need to stop training?
This is unlikely as training is a key part of your rehab process but possibly with some modifications.

What will Treatment consist of? 

  • Yes, there will be pelvic floor exercises but very specialised ones for the Mo and Usain bits but in very functional dynamic ways.
  • Specialised abdominal / breathing strategies
  • Manual (hands on ) treatment to your lumbar spine, pelvis and hips where needed.
  • Yoga type mobility exercises to get your optimum moving back
  • A lot of fun as if you enjoy your rehab it’s likely you’ll do it.

Get in Touch and let us help you


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