Why Outer Butt (Gluteus Medius) Muscles Matter

The power to move you around through space is supposed to come from the outer butt muscles, and often people are relatively weak through them. The gluteus medius and minimus muscles help to keep your pelvis level, and then allow you to swing your leg through with walking. You can work on these directly (with balance training too!) by simply standing on one leg, as seen here.

The shoulder bone’s connected to the neck bone after all

If you’re sitting or standing, your arms should come up by your ears when you move them overhead. If your neck and upper back are rounded forward, then you can see that you can’t fully raise your arms up. If your upper back is stiff and you don’t have full mobility there, then that could lead to shoulder pain over time. Here’s how you can improve mobility in your upper back.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse CAN be Helped!

What is pelvic organ prolapse?

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ—such as your bladder or uterus—drops (prolapses) from its normal place in your lower belly and pushes against the walls of your vagina. This can happen when the muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place become weak or stretched.

Many women will have some kind of pelvic organ prolapse. It can be uncomfortable or painful, but is not typically a serious health problem.  It doesn’t always get worse, and it has been shown that with work it can get better!

More than one pelvic organ can prolapse at the same time. Organs that can be involved when you have pelvic prolapse include the bladder, rectum, uterus, urethra or small intestine.

A bladder prolapse (cystocele) is most common, and occurs when the tissues that hold the bladder in place are stretched or weakened. This causes the bladder to move from its normal position and press against the front wall of the vagina, forming a bulge.

A uterine prolapse occurs when a woman’s pelvic muscles and ligaments become weak, allowing the uterus to drop from its normal position and the cervix to bulge into the vagina.

A rectocele occurs when the tissues and muscles holding the end of the large intestine (rectum) are stretched or weakened, allowing the rectum to move from its regular position and press against the back wall of the vagina.

There is much that can be done to improve your prolapse!

You will need to work with a physiotherapist who works in pelvic health to make a program of exercises and other healthy habits that is specific to you and your situation and lifestyle.

Some things you can do to help:

  • Pelvic floor strengthening exercises (called Kegel exercises) can help to build support at the bottom of your core
  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight
  • Avoid lifting things that are too heavy for you, as it can put stress on your pelvic muscles
  • Caution with higher impact exercise and activity, and possibly switch to lower impact exercise
  • Avoid straining with bowel movements, and increase fibre intake
  • Try “the Knack”, which is a technique of engaging your pelvic floor muscles just before you cough, sneeze or lift in order to better manage the pressure increase

Is your Bladder Running Your Life?

Urinary frequency and urgency are very common issues. If you’re usually going more often than that, or are always needing to know where the toilet is wherever you go, it is possible to train your bladder to be a better reservoir by using your pelvic floor muscles.

What is “overactive” bladder?

The bladder can become irritable or “overactive”, making you pee more often.  This could be due to habit, if you often empty the bladder before it is full. If your bladder never fills up, it doesn’t ever expand and can become smaller over time.  But this can be reversed! You can use your pelvic floor muscles to train your bladder to hold more urine before you need to pee.

It is important that you first get checked by your family doctor, and assuming there is no infection or other medical reason, you can get some help from a pelvic health physiotherapist, who has advanced training in working with pelvic floor muscles and other structures in that area.

What to do?

If you feel you need to urinate more than every 2 hours, try not to go with the first urge you feel.

When you do feel the urge to pee:

  • be still (standing or sitting) and tighten up through your pelvic floor muscles
  • try to distract your brain at the same time with something else

Doing this can help settle down the urge to urinate. If after a minute or two you still need to go, try to walk to the toilet slowly. If the urge to pee has settled down, try to delay going until you feel an urge again. Over time you are trying to lengthen the time between visits to the toilet.

A physiotherapist trained in pelvic health can help to improve these issues further, by listening to your own experience and making a plan forward that is individual to you. If you continue to struggle with urinary frequency or urgency, speak with your physio about this.

The Pelvic Floor in 3D: Here’s why working the pelvic floor matters

It is fair to say that the pelvic floor group of muscles is pretty much ignored by most people until they have an issue like urinary incontinence or urgency. Think of this group as any other mucle in your body, that needs to know how to turn on and off easily, and be coordinated with other parts of the core. This “One Minute Wellness” video explains all about the pelvic floor, and how engaging these muscles can help improve strength and control at the base of your core.

5 Easy tips to help if you stand all day

  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes, and make sure they fit your feet well. This is probably not your time to break in new shoes– stick to the tried and true.
  • Keep moving in different ways: your body is really meant to move, so your back, legs and feet can gets stiff and sore if you’re standing still for sustained periods. You can delay this with shifting your weight side to side, or bending your knees up, or coming up and down on your toes repeatedly. Just try to keep your body moving around consistently.
  • Consider compression hose/ socks: these socks can help encourage blood flow back up your legs toward your heart, and prevent pooling of fluid in your feet and ankles.
  • Stand on a cushioned mat or carpet if possible, as a softer surface can be helpful to delay soreness in your feet and legs.
  • Try to sit when you can: this ties in with point number two, to just change your position. When you’re taking a break or having lunch, try to sit– just putting your body in another position can be very helpful!

Arch is the new round

In, life– every singe day– we spend so much of our time with our spine rounded forward: brushing our teeth, stting on the toilet, washing our feet, reaching in the fridge, loading the dryer. Even looking down all the time to read, or cook, or do just about anything. Here are some nice moves to get out of that position and get your spine to move in the opposite direction! These should feel pretty good and should not be painful– if they are, you might need to modify. Speak with your physiotherapist about how to make it appropriate for you!

“Sloppy” Push Up Variations

We all slouch when we sit. A lot. Our spine is meant to move in all directions, so it’s not like rounding the spine forward– or slouching– is bad in itself, it’s just that so many of us do this movement all the time, and rarely put our backs in any other position. Think about it. Sitting at work, sitting while driving and eating, sitting in front of the television or visiting with people– it’s all sustained positions where our lower back is essentially fully bent forward, which is the slouching position. Then you bend forward to brush your teeth, sit on the toilet, reach in the fridge, load the dryer etc.

A great position to get your back out of the rounded forward position to do the opposite is called a “sloppy” push up. This arching of your back mechanically gets the joints of the spine gliding how they are supposed to, yet rarely does in life. It should feel smooth and easy, so if it’s feeling stiff or tight or sore, it’s telling you that you need to work through something. If that soreness continues, see you physiotherapist who can help you get to the point that the arching movement is pain-free.

Check out this video on variations of the sloppy push up, as what you do with your hands and feet dictate what part of your spine bends the most. You can see other helpful One Minute Wellness videos on our YouTube Channel at Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness.

3 Reasons Why Dynamic Stretching Before a Hike is Important

It’s important to prepare your muscles before any activity, and dynamic stretching prior to hiking can warm up your muscles for carrying the weight of a backpack while walking on uneven terrain. Here are key reasons why it pays to take the time to do these stretches before hiking:

  1. It helps to improve your range of motion- your muscles like to get to their end range, and we don’t tend to do this in life very often… but they will respond if done consistently
  2. Dynamic work lubricates the joints and muscles, because motion is lotion, as they say
  3. Dynamic stretching brings blood flow to the muscles that are about to work
  4. As a bonus, not that you need one, dynamic stretching helps to prepare the whole body for the work that it is about to do– it elevates your heart rate!

Rules for Dynamic Stretching:

  • move through the full range of motion, but keep control; don’t allow momentum to take over with you “flinging” your legs; make sure you are keeping your trunk fairly straight and the movement comes from your hips/ legs
  • you will feel tightness at the ends of the movement in both directions, but it should never be painful
  • start with slower movements, and progress to faster movement through the whole range of motion of the joint; do 10-15 reps, then switch sides; you may find yourself slightly out of breath as you keep going– it’s going to elevate your heart rate

Check out this video on dynamic stretches to do before hiking, or any of our other “One Minute Wellness” videos on our YouTube channel at Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness.


Why Deep Squats can Actually Improve Knee Stability

Deep squats are the best squats– they recruit more muscle, burn more calories, and really help to build a strong butt. It used to be thought that doing deep squats is harmful for the front of your knees, but research has shown that isn’t the case. In fact, deeps squats could actually increase knee stability. Studies have shown that the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments– which really help to stabilize the knee joint– have less force through them when the knee is bent more fully.

It is also much more efficient strengthening, in that parallel squats with more weight are less effective than deeper squats with a lighter weight to build up your booty and thighs. Your gluteus maximus is over 25% more engaged with a deep squat than a parallel squat.

That said, if you have a history of knee issues, there is nothing wrong with parallel squats, and speak with your physiotherapist to safely progress to deep squats as your mobility or strength allows.

Check out this video and others on our YouTube Channel, Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness, for our One Minute Wellness tips on strength, mobility and balance.