Let’s get this out of the way right now: IT’S NOT OK TO PEE YOURSELF DURING A WORKOUT. I know that seems obvious and I’m in no way trying to make fun of that problem. But we need to talk about it because it’s fixable and could be a symptom of a much larger issue: Pelvic Floor dysfunction. So let’s talk about it for a second.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Do you struggle with any of these things:
Bladder control when running, or double unders?
Lower back pain when deadlifting, squatting or really anything hip related?
Any type of exercise-induced asthma?
Have trouble “belly breathing?”
Been diagnosed after pregnancy?
If you can answer yes to this you may have a dysfunctional pelvic floor.
What is the pelvic floor?
You probably have heard about your diaphragm, right? It’s basically a hood-like muscle that attaches to your lungs, spine, even down to your pelvis. It gets a lot of credit (rightfully so) as a VITAL muscle that performs a ton of tasks. Consequently, if you have diaphragmatic dysfunction it can cause lots of problems (back pain, shoulder pain, exercise induced asthma, and more).
Well your pelvic floor is equally as important and, just like your diaphragm, can be responsible for a lot of problems when it doesnt function properly. The pelvic floor essentially forms a basket in your pelvis to aid in everything from lifting weigts, to breathing and digestion. The pelvic floor is, for all intents and purposes, linked with your diaphragm. If one isn’t working properly the other isn’t either.
What does it do?
The pelvic floor plays an absolutely vital role in a lot of autonomic functions. For women, it facilitates birth by allowing the fetus to rotate forward through the pelvic girdle. Unfortunately the pelvic floor takes a beating during child birth and is thus EXTREMELY to rebuild it’s strength. For fellas, erectile dysfunction can be traced back to pelvic floor dysfunction.
For everyone it maintains bladder and colon control and resistance to incontinence. It also provides the sling that holds all your organs in place.
Not worried about any of those things? Fine. It’s also a critical piece of maintaining intra-abdominal pressure. So if you’re looking to maintain the tension needed to squat, olympic lift, or really anything, you better have a fully functioning pelvic floor.
How do I fix any potential problems?
Well I know this sounds like a “catch all” but I’ll tell you right now one of the best ways to fix pelvic floor dysfunction is squatting. Even more important is to learn to squat correctly.
Your pelvic floor and your glutes are virtually indistinguishable. In fact almost all of them are fired by the same nerves. So if your firing your glutes you’re almost inevitably firing and thus strengthening your pelvic floor as well. Ask any elite powerlifter and they’ll tell you that two crucial steps in squatting heavy is “breath deep” (diaphragm? check.) and “pretend you’re holding a fart” (crude…but a good cue for pelvic floor tension).
The first thing we talk about when we cue squatting is a neutral pelvis. If you’re unable to hold your pelvis neutral while squatting it’s a dead giveaway that you’re weak in your glutes and/or pelvic floor. When you lose control of your pelvis and it tilts forward or backward, your pelvic floor is done too.
If you’re spending a lot of time in that anterior pelvic tilt position, you have a weak pelvic floor. Whether a weak pelvic floor is a cause of the pelvic tilt or a result of spending too much time in that tilted position; it doesn’t matter. All that matters is we need to fix it.