Hi, I’m Amanda Olson, from IntimateRose.com; I’m a physical therapist, certified in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Today, we’re going to talk about Kegels for athletes. If you are an athlete, or an active person, and you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, or leakage, or you have pelvic organ prolapse, this would be a feeling of heaviness in the pelvis, it might feel like your organs are falling out, or maybe you’ve been told by your healthcare provider that you have a pelvic organ prolapse. One thing to be aware of is that this is common, but it’s not normal. In a lot of different fitness circles, it’s become kind of a common thing to have urinary leakage during lifting, or during workouts, be kind of a badge of honor. But the thing about it is, it’s really possible to be pushing your body, and lifting strong, or jumping, and running, and exerting yourself, without having these kinds of symptoms. The long term effects of having urinary leakage, or pelvic organ prolapse, over time, can be really problematic in the future. So, just because it doesn’t bother you now, doesn’t mean that it can’t become worse and much more of a problem in the next five to ten years. So it’s important to get a grip on it now, literally. You can do that by strengthening the pelvic floor. One of the reasons that people might experience leakage is because of an imbalance between the pressures above the bladder, and the pressures below. The thorax, the area in the trunk here, is kind of like a high-pressured cannula, or like a soda can, where the diaphragm is the lid, and the pelvic floor, the muscles that you see in red here, is the base. In order for us to not be leaking urine, there has to be a higher force, or more strength below the bladder, than is above. So, if you are holding your breath or, even worse, bearing down when you are lifting, or running, or jumping, that puts pressure above the bladder. The bladder is here, right in the front– So this is the bladder, the uterus, and the rectum in the back– When that force is heavier above, when you bear down, the leakage will most commonly occur out of the urethra, in the front, there. So what we want to do is be sure that we’re breathing when we lift. When you exhale, breathing out, it lifts that pressure out of the thorax, and off of the bladder, and off of the pelvic floor. Likewise, we want to make sure that we are contracting the pelvic floor muscles to support those organs, all three of them. That is a coordinated movement that you’ll want to get really well versed in. So when you go to lift, you want to inhale and relax everything, and exhale and contract the pelvic floor, while you’re performing your move. Obviously, in some power sports, like softball, when you’re swinging a bat, or tennis, when you’re swinging a racquet, the timing of this needs to get very fast, because the ball is coming at you from different angles; it’s not a well-planned movement always, like it is with weight lifting. So, practice that movement, and then practice strengthening the pelvic floor with that. Over time, the pelvic floor muscles will get stronger, just like any other muscle of your body. If you’re leaking, you can expect to notice results within the first few weeks or so. If you’re experiencing the pelvic organ prolapse, you can expect to see results over several weeks to a few months. But you have to progressively strengthen those muscles, just as you would any other muscle in your body. Not all Kegels are created equal; some Kegels are created for power, that you would need, if you were lifting, or even coughing, or sneezing, or laughing. You also want the muscles to have an endurance component to them, and that is important for more longer-term sports, like running, or sports that require endurance, like basketball, soccer, things like that. Also, in day to day life, if you’re having urinary problems, and you need to be able to hold your bladder and not leak for several minutes, when you first experience that urge, those muscles need to be able to contract and hold it for a few minutes. So when you’re training them, a Kegel should be done by imagining that the urethra, this area right here, is a telescope. And you’re going to pull the telescope up and into your body while you’re exhaling. You should aim for about a five-second hold to begin with, progressing that to a ten-second hold if you can. And you can do that in sets of ten, and you can do three to four sets per day. A good place to start that movement would be sitting, or lying down, if you’re having a lot of trouble feeling the sensation of the contraction. And then you can progress to standing. Then, once you feel like a good sensation of the Kegel, it’s important to add resistance too; namely, using vaginal weights. The Intimate Rose vaginal weights are covered in silicone, and they’re easy to put in just like a tampon, easy to get out. There are six progressive weights so that you can figure out where you are, and progressively get stronger. The heaviest weight is 125 grams. So when you’re considering if you’re a heavy lifter, and you’re looking to be doing the Olympic lifting programs, then you need to be able to train your pelvic floor to withstand that pressure. Meanwhile, also working on the coordination of breathing, and learning to lift the pelvic floor, versus bearing down. And then likewise, for training endurance, you can put the weight in, and take a shower, or do light chores for about 15 minutes, and be addressing your endurance. You can also start training sport-specific movements with the weight in. You could always put the weight in and do light activity, such as squats, or heel raises, or lunges, for about 10 to 15 minutes. We don’t recommend that you have the weight in your body for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, because that’s quite a lot for the pelvic floor muscles. It doesn’t seem like it, when you look at full-body movements where you’re having a workout that might last significantly longer, but that is plenty for the pelvic floor muscles. So, by strengthening the pelvic floor, you’re able to stop that leakage, and you’re also training your body how to respond under the stress that your sport can bring to it. For more information, or to purchase, visit IntimateRose.com.