Kim Vopni, founder and CEO of Pelvienne Wellness Inc. is also the author of Prepare to Push. She recently launched a new program called Kegel Mojo, an online Pelvic Floor Fitness Program.
In a Q&A, Vopni shared her passion and tips for a healthy pelvic floor:
Q: Women who do high impact sports what kind of pressure does it put on their pelvic floor?
A: Exercise is good for the pelvic floor and a variety of movement is better than doing the same thing over and over. That being said, if the activity you are choosing makes you leak urine, feel heaviness in the pelvis, or pain in the hips and/or knees and/or low back then it could be a sign that the pelvic floor is not working as optimal as it could. I highly recommend that all women see a pelvic floor physiotherapist annually and whenever symptoms like pain, heaviness, and leaking are present. Some women choose to continue with the running or high impact sports even though they bring on symptoms but it becomes about informed choice. If you are informed then it is up to you.
I see many women how are not informed and think their symptoms are ‘normal’ since they have had kids or reached menopause. Leaking, pain, and heaviness may be common but they are not normal and there is help.2. How can one strengthen their pelvic floor? Exercises what are some of them? First thing, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can help you truly access those muscles correctly. They will help you learn the elusive kegel – an exercise designed to work the pelvic floor but very often women are doing them incorrectly. A kegel is a voluntary contraction, lift and then relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. They can (and should) be done lying down, seated, standing and with movement. Some research points to three sets of ten Kegels, three times a day is deal.
I suggest ten done at the start of the day while lying in bed and then interspersed through the day while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for a coffee, sitting on a conference call, during a workout. Once you know how to access the pelvic floor muscles you can bring them into your daily life with ease and it will help alleviate the symptoms we described earlier. Dr. Bruce Crawford, a UroGyn in Reno Nevada has done a lot of work using wireless EMG to see what movements recruit the pelvic floor the most and at what point in the movement. Squats, lunges, and bridges are all exercises that recruit the pelvic floor. When you add in a kegel during the movement you get even more recruitment of the pelvic floor muscles.
Q: What is pelvic floor dysfunction and how does it happen?
A: There are many types of pelvic floor dysfunction and they can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common challenges women face are stress urinary incontinence (SUI), urge incontinence (UI), Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Pelvic Pain. Pregnancy and childbirth are definitely a contributing factor to the development of these challenges but many women who have never been pregnant face the same issues. Surgery, accidents, aging, poor posture, heavy lifting, and menopause are also very common contributors to pelvic floor dysfunction.
Q: What is new in pelvic floor health?
A: There are two things I love; One is when I can educate a group of expectant women about the pelvic floor in birth and how to remove optimally. I always work with a preventive mindset and love informing women when they are in a position to prevent or minimize the development of pelvic floor challenges. I also love it when someone who has been struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction learns what to do to eliminate the symptoms. I had a client who was running in depends. In four sessions she was running without depends and felt faster and stronger than before the birth of her baby. That makes my heart sing!
Q: What is your mission for women’s health?
A: My mission is to make pelvic floor physiotherapy standard care for all women – especially pregnant women and new mothers. In France, women get 6-10 visits with a pelvic floor physiotherapist paid for by the government. It just makes sense and would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the healthcare system.
Q: What is next for you?
A: I recently launched an online core and pelvic floor fitness program called Kegel Mojo and I am working to get that into the hands of women. Those who don’t have access to pelvic floor physiotherapy and even those who do – it is a great compliment to the work they do with the physio and helps them maintain their pelvic floor fitness with an easy to use anywhere access program.
For more information: www.pelviennewellness.com