So often we hear about women having a 'weak pelvic floor' but what about 'an overactive or Hypertonic pelvic floor'? Alycia Hatzi explains what that means and the implications it can have on the rest of your body, while also sharing her personal story.
So often we hear about women having a ‘weak pelvic floor’ but what about ‘an overactive or Hypertonic pelvic floor’?
An overactive or Hypertonic pelvic floor (PF) means that the PF muscles are unable to fully release or relax and remain contracted or over-activated all the time or during certain activities resulting in a higher resting tone.
You might be thinking that’s a good thing, right?
Well, when we think about our muscles, we want them to be functional – not too weak and not too overactive or ‘tight’.
It’s the same for our PF. A PF that can move in its entire range of motion and displays no symptoms of dysfunction could be called a functional PF (this is what a Women’s Health Physio specialises in checking).
Imagine your bicep muscles flexed all day, everyday. They might be strong enough to hold that position but they may also become quite tight preventing them from extending out or relaxing (resulting in a reduced range of motion).
Imagine that happening to your PF and the possible implications that could cause for the rest of your body.
I want to share with you, in a nutshell, what it’s been like living with a Hypertonic PF since I was a teenager – yet only being diagnosed at age 32.
Decreased sensation and pain during sex, infections, anxiety, depression, stress, over-training, bladder frequency, inability to empty my bladder, bloated belly, pain/difficulty during pap smears/swabs/physical examinations, emergency caesarean and nocturia were all of my personal symptoms or contributing factors or results of my Hypertonic PF.
Which came first, right?
Shockingly, NOT ONE medical professional since the age of 16 ever mentioned the words PELVIC FLOOR TRAINING or WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIO to me, ever. EVER. It was like a funny joke to the multiple nurses performing swabs or pap smears over the years that I ‘couldn’t relax’. For me, it was horrendous.
After having my son in 2018 I went on a mission to seek help in everything relating to the post-partum PF which lead me to a Women’s Health Physio (WHP) and becoming a pre/post-natal qualified trainer.
During pregnancy, a few brochures are given to us and we are expected to know and understand how our PF works, know if we are activating it correctly and assume we are functional. However, there is no way of knowing what we are doing with it unless we see a WHP.
Fast forward to having two WHPs and creating my own training program which focused on PF exercises as well as modified training styles – in 8 short weeks I went from displaying the symptoms above to reducing nightly toilet habits to 0-1, increasing the flow and ability to completely empty my bladder, increased sensation during sex with a decrease in anxiety around sex resulting in a reconnection with my partner (I also HIGHLY recommend the book Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski – recommended to me by my WHP, of course!), less belly bloating, ability to complete PF release and activation sitting and standing, understanding my training limits and basically falling in love with my PF.
This may seem like a list of no significance but when this was dramatically improved within just 8 weeks of completing my PF exercises each week, correctly, modifying my training and becoming aware of this information, it has become life changing for me and something I now maintain.
Undisturbed sleep, reduced anxiety, improved confidence – if only I knew this when I was 18, 21, 25, 28… 30! 31! I could have enjoyed these things for a whole lot longer of my adult life. Ask yourself, what would a functional PF mean to you?
I task you to find out what your PF is doing by seeing a WHP and if you don’t know what a WHP is, find out! And if you do, tell every woman (or man) you know – it could be life changing for you/them!!
My vision is that all women everywhere know a WHP!
Alycia runs Strongest U Fitness in Bendigo, Victoria. To find out more about her and get in touch, click here.
You can also find her on Instagram.
MumSafe™ is the go-to place online for women to find mum-focused fitness services that are all accredited, experienced and partnered with Women’s Health Physios so you know you are in very safe hands. Click here to find a trainer and click here to find a Women’s Health Physio near you.