Let's make 2023 a time to love and cherish our pelvic floor muscles. With that being said let's stop doing these two things.
Stop hovering over the toilet.
Stop pushing out Pee
It's so tempting to hover over the toilet especially if you are using a public restroom. But, here is why it's killing your pelvic floor muscles. Most, people will hover over the toilet due to fear of germs and contracting illness. Did you know microbes found in a restroom have a very low probability to cause an infection, and the chances are even lower for those who use good hygiene practices.
Here are some tips when using a public restroom
Go for the first stall. People tend to use the middle and last stall for a bit of privacy, so go for the first stall to limit your exposure to bacteria and germs. It will likely be less used and cleaner than the other stalls in the bathroom.
Do not put your belongings on the bathroom floor. A study found that the highest concentration of germs in public bathrooms is on the bathroom floor. Instead, hang your bag and coat on the hook behind the door.
Do not be afraid to sit on the toilet seat. You are more at risk of picking up germs and bacteria by touching bathroom surfaces with your hands and then not washing them, rather than through the skin on your bottom. *** You can use a toilet liner to provide a barrier between you and the toilet***.
Keep your hands clean. Wash them with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not an option, use a hand sanitizer containing a minimum concentration of 70% alcohol or higher.
Use wipes and tissues to cover your hands when touching faucets, stall doors, and toilet paper dispensers.
Dry your hands. If you use a paper towel, do not throw it in the garbage, but use it on the door handle and discard it on the other side.
Avoid using your cell phone in the restroom. The phone also carries a lot of germs and using it in the restroom increases the risk of transferring microbes from the toilet to the phone, and later to the mouth and nose.
When we pee our pelvic floor muscles need to lengthen/relax in order to allow the urine to come out. When you are hovering over the toilet you are activating the muscles of your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle – your hip rotators, gluten, back, and abs. Thus, you are creating tension in these muscles making it harder for urine to smoothly come out. This can actually make you want to push or “bear down” slightly to make the urine come out quickly. Frequent pushing or bearing down to urinate can contribute to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.
So, instead, make sure you sit fully on the toilet when you urinate.
This brings us to the next topic pushing urine out. Are you pushing out your pee? If so, you’re teaching your brain to activate your pelvic floor when you should actually be relaxing it! This results in a pressure change around the urethra and the bladder neck not allowing for full and complete urinating). Over time, if you routinely push your pee out, you’ll develop a start/stop flow pattern because the muscles are getting confused about what they should actually be doing at the time of urination. You’re teaching these muscles a behavior that’s contradicting what they should naturally be doing for voiding. (Especially if you have a hypertonic - tight - pelvic floor and you feel like you have to push.) Pelvic floor therapy can help with that!
If you are having problems completely emptying your bladder or feel like you must push urine out try this!
Use a squatty potty, this will give you the best posture to allow your pelvic floor muscles to lengthen/relax.
Make sure you sit on the toilet for a full 2 min.
Try using diaphragmatic (belly) breathes to help lengthen/relax your pelvic floor
Pelvic tilts. These can be done while sitting on the toilet or standing up. What you will want to do is urinate then stand up perform 3-4 pelvic tilts then sit back down on the toilet to further empty.
Let's love our pelvic floor muscles a little more in 2023.
Happy New Year's from your favorite Pelvic Health OT
Nicole Muriel OTR/L HSP, PCES