2 LOCATIONS:   BETHESDA, MD. 4905 Del Ray Ave, Suite 508   |   MCLEAN, VA. 1305 Vincent Place

Are You Harming Your Pelvic Floor? 3 Habits to Avoid

Do you frequently have to go to the bathroom—and struggle to go when you’re there? Do you ever accidentally let out urine when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or pick something up? Have you ever noticed a sense of pressure in your pelvis? Do you have unexplained low back pain?

All these issues are possible signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, which can negatively affect your physical and even mental well-being. And while some risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction aren’t exactly avoidable—including trauma or surgery in the pelvis, pregnancy, and advancing age—there are certain things you may be doing that could be harming the important “sling” of muscles inside your pelvis and increasing your risk of dysfunction.

Here are three habits to look out for:

1. Lifting Things Improperly

Whether you’re picking up a backpack, a barbell, or even a rambunctious toddler, it’s important to avoid common lifting mistakes that could increase pressure on your pelvic floor and lead to weakening or stretching out of the muscles over time:

  • Holding your breath
  • Holding the object far away from your body
  • Repeatedly lifting heavy objects

For all the gym-goers out there, this doesn’t mean you can’t lift heavy weights or go for that personal record. But to reduce the risk of hurting your pelvic floor while lifting, it’s important that you know how to maintain proper technique and breathing patterns throughout exercise.

2. Straining to Defecate or Forcing Urine Out

If you frequently strain or push hard while pooping, or forcefully push out or interrupt your flow of urine as you pee, you can strain your pelvic floor muscles and disrupt the normal firing of the muscle fibers.

To avoid these harmful habits, try leaning forward when you’re sitting on the toilet and resting your forearms on your knees. You can also keep your legs a little further apart, or elevate your feet on a stool.

Lastly, eat a diet that’s rich in fiber and drink plenty of water—it’ll help you avoid constipation and keep your bowel movements more regular.

3. Poor Posture

Our grandmothers may have been on to something when they told us to sit up straight!

Constant slouching can lead to imbalances and weakening of various core muscles, including your abdominal and glutes. And when these muscles become weak or inactive, the alignment and pressure inside your pelvis can change in a way that stresses the pelvic floor. (The negative impact of poor posture can become even more pronounced when you’re carrying around excess pounds—yet another benefit of maintaining a healthy bodyweight.)

Does Your Pelvic Floor Need Some TLC?

Pelvic floor disorders are surprisingly common—but they are treatable. If you’re concerned about your pelvic floor health and would like to see how pelvic physical therapy can help, contact ITR Physical Therapy at 301-770-7060 to schedule an appointment at either our McLean VA or Bethesda MD location.