When I was a teenager (Terry), I was looking for a way to feel great in the white jumpsuits made so popular by ABBA (Yes, I’m that old!) I enjoyed running and cycling to keep fit but I was thrilled when my Dad gave me a little paperback book apparently directly from the Royal Canadian Air Force which he credited with helping him maintain his lean physique. (He was about 45, already ancient in my mind, but admittedly still fit enough to beat my brothers at squash)
I dutifully worked my way rapidly through the levels of exercise prescribed in the book and soon mastered sit-ups, push-ups, star jumps and many other sweat inducing exercises. I developed great hip and trunk flexors, but also started leaking a little urine when I ran or jumped and developed a rather rounded tummy.
I never told anyone and just compensated by going to the toilet more often and wearing a pad for exercise. I didn’t look that great in that white jump suit, although I was quite skinny. I also never realised the connection between the exercises in that little book or that the problem I was experiencing with urine was completely curable.
Things got a lot better in the years that followed when I switched to swimming and windsurfing as my preferred exercise, and to be honest I forgot all about that little booklet until many years later when I obtained my post graduate qualification in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy.
I finally learnt that strong hip and trunk flexors would never help me feel comfortable in my white ABBA jump suit. I understood what the “core” really is and I learnt that ignoring the pelvic floor when training is a recipe for incontinence.
I wish I could go back and share these 5 facts with my 15 year old self:
- Everyone has a pelvic floor, even self-conscious teenagers.
- The 6 pack set of muscles down your front is not your core.
- Overworking hip and trunk flexors at the expense of your pelvic floor and core will make you look pregnant and leak urine.
- Just because you can do exercises designed for the Canadian Air force – doesn’t mean that you should.
- You’re not alone – 25% of young athletes regularly leak urine and this can be prevented.
Forget that 1950’s exercise program. To save you the long journey that I had to endure the Victorian Continence Resource Centre have developed a program called Reclaim Your Core. I will be running a series of lectures based on the Reclaim Your Core program this year. The first will be in March.
In a 2 hour Reclaim Your Core Intensive workshop I will be sharing more fascinating facts and frightening statistics, teaching you how to train your core safely as well as revealing what finally happened to that jumpsuit.
I will also be delivering the accredited education Pelvic Floor Fitness, Function and More – which was developed by Pelvic Floor First for exercise professionals (accredited with 1 CEC or PDP points) Everyone has a pelvic floor, therefore every trainer should learn how to train them safely to avoid causing or aggravating pelvic floor dysfunction!