How to talk to your PT about pelvic issues – and do you need to?
At the start of the exercise class, the instructor will usually ask whether anyone has any injuries. You hear a classmate mention a knee injury or weak wrists, and don’t exactly feel comfortable to pop your hand up and say, “yep, I have a prolapsed bladder” or “I have a weak pelvic floor and sometimes leak urine.”
It can be challenging to find a fitness professional you feel comfortable enough to discuss these matters with. Rest assured that you aren’t the only one in this situation!
We asked fitness professional, Marietta Mehanni, to share her top tips for raising pelvic issues with a personal trainer or exercise class instructor. She believes you need to let the fitness professional know about your requirements. Just because you may not be able to see the injury or issue doesn’t mean it isn’t significant.
“I view someone with a pelvic floor dysfunction as serious as someone who has a knee issue or heart condition. It’s going to be greatly impacted by exercise,” Marietta says.
Marietta recommends a simple question to start with, to help you understand whether this is the fitness professional for you.
“The first thing I would suggest is to ask if the trainer/instructor is aware of, or provides, pelvic floor-modified exercise options. That would give the client a fairly good indication of whether the instructor has any idea in this area,” she says.
“If they say no, then clearly they’re not the trainer you’re after. If yes, then that can open up the conversation as to why you’re seeking the options.”
She says any good personal trainer (PT) would gather information prior to starting to make sure they can achieve a client’s goals and not exacerbate any current issues. This questionnaire may include specific questions about health, prior injuries and how much exercise you have done in the past.
In a group fitness class, the situation is often very different. The instructor may not have the qualifications that a PT has or pelvic floor knowledge.
Focus on making time for an ideal environment in which to raise your need for pelvic floor-modified exercise.
“The instructor can’t provide modifications if they’re not aware someone has an issue. The best time is five to 10 min before the class so they can speak privately. Right before the class, the instructor has a lot going on or they may have their microphone switched on,” Marietta says.
Some classes may not be suited to multiple modifications, so Marietta recommends finding out more before attending.
“Be reasonable and do some research about the classes and what’s involved. You can contact the gym and see what the classes look like online or on YouTube.
“The recommendation is always for the participant to be in control of their outcome and usually the instructor will recommend for them to work at their own pace.”
Remember that your continence health professional, such as a pelvic floor physiotherapist, can monitor the progress of your pelvic floor dysfunction and exercise modification needs.
This story was first published in the Pelvic Floor First eNewsletter.