THE PELVIC FLOOR – A PART OF YOUR CORE YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE!
Most of us understand the importance of keeping our core muscles strong to protect our back and give us balance and stability. We dutifully do abdominal crunches, leg lifts, and planking, believing our abdomen is the most important of the core muscles. While it is true the abdominal muscles, especially the transversus abdominal muscles, are an important component of your core muscles, the pelvic floor muscles are equally, if not more important. It forms the floor of your core, giving support to your bladder, pelvic organs (uterus and ovaries in women) and bowels. It also has the extremely important function of preventing leakage of urine.
As I have a sedentary day job, I have always made exercising a priority. Over the years, I have done pilates, yoga, running, weight training, and almost any new fitness fad. I don’t recall ever being instructed on the importance of the pelvic floor. Women generally accept that a little urinary dribbling is acceptable or inevitable, especially after having children, and with age. There are even commercials today with women in nothing but a bra and incontinence underwear smiling about how slim the underwear appear and how good they look under a form fitting skirt. The reality is that any woman that needs to wear incontinence underwear is crying inside.
Kegel exercises are well known and often prescribed for women who are experiencing urinary incontinence. A limitation of Kegel exercises is that some women are unable to generate Kegel contractions or perform them correctly, perhaps due to nerve injury that happened during child-birth. Even if the nerve recovers, lack of use over time can result in deconditioning and weakening of this set of muscles. Like any muscle, Kegels need to be done on a regular basis to build and maintain strength. Many women who are raising a family feel like they are lucky to even get to the washroom, let alone stop their stream while urinating to strengthen their muscles!
With age (starting in our 40s) and menopause, muscle strength diminishes, and this includes the muscles of the pelvic floor. This is one of the reasons that incontinence becomes much more common as we age. Additionally, with the lack of estrogen, the vaginal walls become thinner and less able to support the urethra and bladder. Over 50% of women over the age of 65 suffer from urinary incontinence and 70% of women in nursing homes are incontinent.
As a woman over the age of 50 and having delivered three children, I am desperate not to become part of the statistic of women who need to wear incontinence pads daily. I also have a busy family and work life and know that performing Kegels routinely is not in my books. When I found out that there was a non-invasive device that I could sit on fully clothed that would result in doing 11,200 supramaximal Kegels in 28 minutes, my attention was definitely peaked. The BLT EMSELLA has just received approval from Health Canada, although it has been FDA approved and been used in the U.S. for over a year.
The EM of EMSELLA stands for ElectroMagnetic (EM) and SELLA is Latin for “chair”. The energy used for the EMSELLA is the same as that used for MRI except with the EMSELLA, the energy is focused 10 cm above the seat of the chair and delivered in a pulsed fashion to the pelvic floor, causing contraction of the whole pelvic floor. Essentially, it produces a magnitude and frequency of Kegel contraction that you could not produce on your own.
It has been found that a series of 6 treatments, done twice weekly for 3 weeks, improves the quality of life of 95% of treated patients. These results were maintained at 3 and 6-month follow up. 67% of treated patients reduced or totally eliminated the use of hygienic pads in day-to day life. 100% of patients reported better awareness of the pelvic floor muscles.
From my own experience, after just 4 treatments, I was much more aware of the importance of engaging the pelvic muscles in the gym. Compare for yourself how much more stable you are doing a deadlift while engaging your pelvic floor compared to without. I can hardly wait to see how my newly strengthened core helps me on the waterski!
While I have been performing vaginal laser treatment with diVa to achieve vaginal tightening and improve urinary incontinence issues for over a year, I am thrilled to be able to add this additional technology to address a very common and distressing condition in an all-encompassing fashion. Say “NO” to incontinence!