I want to share a couple of tips that many of my patients have found helpful in their journey through pelvic floor rehabilitation and return to activity: triathalon shorts and a high fiber diet. The high fiber diet seems logical to reduce any added strain on our pelvic floor, but the triathalon shorts…pretty random right? I agree, but so many women have shared these tips with me that I must pass them on.
Let’s start with the tri short. The benefit of the tri short is two-fold. Number one, they hug tight to your hips and buns as any spandex short would, but the light pad included in the triathalon short provides a comfortable compression to your pelvic floor. Why is this helpful? There is something called proprioception that we work on a lot in the physical therapy clinic. It’s your body’s awareness of where it is in space. It has been shown that providing compression to a joint or muscle can improve the proprioception of stabilizing ligaments or tendons and the muscles, helping them to fire more efficiently and effectively. You see many athletes using the compression sleeves on knees or elbows to provide this effect to a joint that is weaker than its counterparts. The triathalon short provides this same proprioception to our pelvic floor muscles.
The second benefit of the triathalon short comes from the same light padding that improves our muscle firing with compression. The pad can also provide some absorption for minor leaking without having to wear a pad as you work to get your pelvic floor muscles strong enough to allow walking, running, or hiking symptom-free. And even if your leaking is a bit more than the pad can absorb, these shorts will hold any absorption product in place because of the tighter fit.
Although, the use of these compression shorts hasn’t been medically researched, enough of my patients swear by them that I don’t hesitate to recommend them. I personally like the low rise DeSoto triathalon short as I wore these first while I was pregnant and the low rise waist band was a perfect fit under my pregnant belly. To be honest, they continue to be my favorite to this day!
The second tip that I want to share that will ease the strain on your pelvic floor is a high fiber diet. This suggestion comes from the desire to alleviate all downward pressure on our pelvic floor muscles. A high fiber diet along with plenty of water will alleviate the tendency to breath-hold and push when voiding. The benefits of a high fiber diet include better motility through our bowel and may translate into lower LDL cholesterol levels. These benefits make a high fiber diet an easy recommendation.
When looking for high fiber food choices, keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are some of your best choices. Foods with oats, beans, and whole wheat will also increase your fiber intake. If you don’t see the benefit of easing your bowel movements with food choices alone, you may choose to add a daily spoonful of Metamucil or Benefiber to a glass of water for that extra burst of fiber in your diet. Remember, the potential benefits of a high fiber diet include lower risk of colon cancer, lower LDL cholesterol levels, typically more heart healthy food choices, and of course, easing the strain on your pelvic floor.
Good luck everyone. Hope these two tips help you on your path to better pelvic floor health. Any other tips out there are welcome. We will all benefit from the stories of what works for you!