Nonrelaxing or Hypertonic PFD... What does that even mean?
DEFINED as the inability (or difficulty) to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
Your pelvic floor muscles include the muscles deep and also superficial around your pelvis. Muscles around your rectum and also your vagina.
This type of "dysfunction" is quite common in athletes and can be one of the main factors in WHY many struggle with urinary incontinence.
Now, before we get too far into it, let me also describe to your what I mean by "dysfunction."
A dysfunction just means that things are not working properly or as they should be working. This can include the organs, muscles, nervous system, etc.
Okay, back to the good stuff.
15-73% of female athletes in varying sports experience urinary incontinence.
Now, this is not an article only about urinary incontinence, it is also about general dysfunctions of the pelvic floor.
Sports involving trampoline and gymnastics followed by running and endurance athletes had the highest rate of contributing to urinary incontinence, and were found to be mostly caused by a tense pelvic floor.
The reason behind it is thought to be the imbalance of pelvic floor muscle contraction with intra-abdominal pressure.
When it comes to female athletes and pelvic floor dysfunction, most studies are focused around urinary incontinence.
However, take note of the following symptoms for nonrelaxing/hypertonic PFMD:
😥 Inability to evacuate urine or stool
😥 Bladder urethral pain, panuresis (cannot pee in the presence of others), urgency
😥 Pain with bowel movements, Constipation
😥 Sexual Dysfunction, pain with sex, vulvodynia, vaginismus
😥 Pain that can increase with activity
😥 Even though it is shown that exercise and PFM contractions can help with urinary incontinence, I find it is much more than that.
✔understanding breathe patterns that change with loads (increasing weight, increasing endurance)
✔knowing their own strategies
✔modifications they can make.
It is incredibly important that EACH of the above are addressed when you are seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Side note: be sure to come back next week to read about the things you should look for in a GREAT pelvic PT!
I often have to help my athletes understand coordination with the pelvic floor, and relaxing the muscles just as much as they focus on kegeling.
More often than not, I find that athletes need to relax and coordinate with their pelvic floor instead of just doing kegels.
How about you?
Do you feel like you are able to relax your pelvic floor while at the same time performing an appropriate kegel?