You know pool time and summer time go together like peanut butter and jelly. But did you know that having a weak pelvic floor doesn’t mean you need to be left out of this summer tradition? I’m here to challenge that lie you’ve been hearing.
But, first a little physics lesson. When you are in the pool, your weight presses down into the water. The water presses back on you. You are lighter than the water you have displaced. You float. You are buoyant. Buoyancy is your friend.
So, what does this have to do with the pelvic floor? And, a weak pelvic floor at that?
Being in the pool, diminishes the effect of gravity on the pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, the internal organs ‘float’ taking more pressure off weak pelvic floor muscles. Experiencing the diminishing effects of gravity on your pelvic floor will make it easier to contract and relax weak pelvic floor muscles. Your summer time pool time is a great opportunity to learn what an engaged or relaxed pelvic floor feels like. Additionally, you may experience success in the water that you do not normally experience on land with pelvic floor contractions and lifts. For some people, the buoyancy effect gives people the freedom to do exercises in the water that would normally cause leakage on land such a walking, jumping or running.
Now you’re probably asking how you can make this work for you?
Plan ahead and be proactive with what you might need in the pool. It sounds silly, but if being in the pool is a nerve wracking experience, making sure you have nothing hindering you.
Here are my five tips for getting in the pool:
Void prior to getting into the pool. Emptying the bladder will take the pressure of you and your pelvic floor.
Get over yourself. No is watching what you are doing. You will be OK.
Enter the pool slowly. If you plunge right in - the pelvic floor reflexively tightens protecting you from leaking.
You do not need to have equipment. Your exercise plan may simply include focusing on contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor, varying your hold times and trying to hold the pelvic floor contraction for longer periods of time.
Think beyond the pool side. You can walk in chest height water to challenge the pelvic floor too. Or, maybe take a few laps for the fun of it.
Pool time CAN BE pelvic floor time. Now, go and enjoy yourself!
About the Author, Michelle Herbst
I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential. I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.