Physiotherapy to Treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (Guest Post by

Women diagnosed with Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) may feel confused about what the diagnosis means, and what treatments are available. It is important that women become educated on the subject since approximately 50 percent will be diagnosed with it. POP occurs when a weakened pelvic floor allows pelvic organs to fall, or drop, placing pressure on the vagina.

The good news is that many cases of POP, especially cases with very mild to moderate symptoms, can be treated using physiotherapy — physical therapy — rather than surgery. Some surgical procedures, especially those using transvaginal mesh, have been linked to serious and irreversible health complications. Physiotherapy can often reverse the symptoms of POP, allowing women to skip risky surgical treatment altogether.

Can Pelvic Organ Prolapse be Avoided?

One of the most natural ways to avoid POP is to do physiotherapy-based exercises before POP sets in. POP is usually diagnosed in women between the ages of 50 and 79 because menopause is a time when estrogen levels decrease and pelvic tissues become thin and weak.

Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of POP. Additional factors include smoking and obesity. Women can be proactive about their pelvic health by leading a healthy lifestyle and doing daily exercises, such as Kegels, to keep pelvic muscles healthy and strong.

Physiotherapy Options for Treating Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Once POP has been diagnosed, there are several safe and effective methods for treating it. Women will want to discuss these options with their doctor before agreeing to surgery.

Pelvic Floor Exercises: Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels, Yoga and Pilates can help to strengthen the pelvic floor and core muscles. This can often reverse mild symptoms and protect organs from prolapsing further.

Pelvic Physiotherapy: There are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic health. A doctor can recommend a pelvic physical therapist who will instruct and guide women through a series of exercises that focus on pelvic muscles to reverse the symptoms of POP. Women with a family history of POP may want to start these exercises when they are young to help prevent POP.

Electrical Stimulation: Doctors can use electrical stimulation to manually strengthen pelvic floor muscles, if Kegel exercises aren’t enough. They also have biofeedback machines that can demonstrate whether a woman is doing pelvic exercises effectively. If the feedback indicates the muscles aren’t being stimulated, a doctor can work to instruct the patient on how to do the exercises more effectively.

Not only is pelvic physiotherapy beneficial for women with POP, it can also help women who experience incontinence. In fact, research demonstrates that women who perform proper Kegel exercises on a daily basis during pregnancy are much less likely to develop incontinence during their third trimester. Continued use of these exercises can prevent incontinence altogether.

Other Non-Invasive Treatments

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that women with mild to moderate POP opt for more conservative treatments, as opposed to surgical treatments. The organization has also stressed the importance of taking preventative actions against the development of POP.

   Healthy Lifestyle: POP can be prevented. Many of the symptoms of POP are worsened by unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking and chronic straining, such as with constipation, and obesity. By maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and weight, the risk of POP can be minimized.

   Vaginal pessary: A pessary is a removable device placed into the vagina, designed to support prolapsed organs. Pessaries hold organs in the correct place before it becomes enlarged and protrudes through the vagina. The pessary is fitted as to not cause discomfort. Symptoms of POP usually improve or go away after pessary use. Risks include wearing of vaginal wall and bleeding; but can be prevented by insuring the device fits correctly.

Working with doctors, and implementing physiotherapy when necessary, can prevent the development of POP and can often reverse existing symptoms of the condition. Transvaginal mesh, a common surgical device used to treat POP, has been determined risky by the Food and Drug Administration.  Thousands of women who are suffering from its use have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits against the manufacturers. Now, it is more important than ever that women do all they can to prevent the need for risky surgical procedures.

For further updates on this condition and its treatments, stay tuned to Fitnesspedia.

Pilates for Senior Citizens- Why?

Good Posture: head over shoulders, over hips, over knees, over ankles.

Pilates for senior citizens works wonders as it is low impact compared to other forms of exercise. It’s not as severe on the joints as other types of exercise workouts.

Pilates focusses on breathing & quality-controlled movements, not repetitions.
How Pilates Works?
“Pilates stretches muscles that are tight & strengthens those that are weak to help realign your body to its natural form.”
  • Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind & elevates the spirit.
  • Pilates is unique. It systematically exercises all the muscle groups in the body, the weak as well as the strong.
  • The exercises make you stronger, flexible, & less likely to fall because they re-educate your body to use all of your muscles, not just the superficial ones.
  • By strengthening both your large muscles & the deep, smaller endurance muscles that are responsible for your strength, they take the strain off the larger muscles & give them added support.
  • Concentration & correct breathing are added to exercise for the older adult that can teach you to recruit the smaller, supportive muscles.

With Pilates exercise for senior citizens the center of your body needs to be your focus (core).

This is the place from which all movement begins & proceeds to the extremities- the whole body working together.

Every movement and exercise for seniors, especially walking, should be started by first contracting the core of the body.

Bottom line: less pain, greater range of motion, and fewer falls.

DISCLAIMER: Always talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Strength Training in Golden Years

The common perception of the elderly is that they become weak and fragile due to age induced muscle wasting.

It has been shown that resistance training can enhance muscle mass and function even in 90 year old subjects, and is the most effective way to maintain the quality of life as we age.
Anyone who has reviewed the literature on aging and exercise realizes that a tremendous amount of research has been conducted in this area and has shown that resistance training can be safely performed by the elderly if done correctly.

  • Make sure you pre-test and/or screen your subjects prior to starting your training.
  • Anyone over the age of 40 should go through a health screening before they initiate any exercise program to insure their safety and to identify any possible limitations (risks) they may have to exercise.
  • Depending on your initial fitness level, a slow approach is advised, especially if you have little or no lifting experience.

Training Program:

  • Should include Warm up (10 min), Strength Training (30 min) & Cool Down (15 min)
  • Lifting Stations, Lifting Circuit, and Rest Periods: Use a full body routine that exercises all the major muscles and alternates between the upper and lower body. Use 2 minutes of rest between stations.
  • Periodization Plan: Modify the workload & exercise intensity as it will reduce boredom & will keep your interest going.

Benefits of Strength Training:

  • Arthritis Relief: A recently completed study found that strength training decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, improved the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease, and decreased disability, in osteoarthritic seniors. Strength training has shown to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis at an equal or higher level than medications.
  • Improved Glucose Control: Type II Diabetes is very common in elderly all over the globe. In addition to being at greater risk for heart and renal disease, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Fortunately, studies now show that lifestyle changes such as strength training have a profound impact on helping older adults manage their diabetes. In a recent study, 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication.
  • Healthy Heart: Strength training is important for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when the body is leaner. American Heart Association to recommends strength training as a way to reduce risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
  • Restoration of Balance and Reduction of Falls: Strengthening exercises, when done properly and through the full range of motion, increase a person’s flexibility and balance, which decrease the likelihood and severity of falls.
  • Strengthening of Bone: Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study, showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.
  • Weight Control: Strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle tissue consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.
  • Healthy State of Mind: Strength training provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications. When older adults participate in strength training programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, which has a strong impact on their overall quality of life.
  • Sleep Improvement: People who exercise regularly enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often, and sleep longer. As with depression, the sleep benefits obtained as a result of strength training are comparable to treatment with medication but without the side effects or the expense.

The bottom line is that they are training for life and will need to continue this training for as long as they are able.

Also check out: Exercise Benefits in Senior Citizens
If you are presently are enjoying the benefits of strength training, we would love to hear from you!

DISCLAIMER: Consult your doctor before trying out Strength Training.

Why should Senior Citizens Exercise?

Welcome to one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Exercise!-The fountain of youth!

For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it is not because they have aged. More likely, it is because they have become inactive.

The human body is made for movement, and this applies to senior citizens too.
As you grow older, leading an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, and manage the symptoms of any illness or pain. Exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging. And not only is exercise good for your body—it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory.

No matter your age or your current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise. Reaping the rewards of exercise doesn’t require strenuous workouts or trips to the gym. It’s about adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways.

Don’t worry if you’ve never exercised, or if you stopped exercising for some reason. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. In addition, the right kind of regular exercise can reduce your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and falls.
You may have a hard time starting an exercise routine. Once you do start, though, you will begin to notice the benefits, including improved sleep and self-esteem.

What can Exercise do for Me?

Most people know that exercise is good for them. Somehow, though, older adults have been left out of the picture — until recently. Today a new picture is emerging from research: Older people of different physical conditions have much to gain from exercise and from staying physically active. They also have much to lose if they become physically inactive.

Exercise isn’t just for older adults in the younger age range, who live independently and are able to go on brisk jogs. Researchers have found that exercise and physical activity also can improve the health of people who are 90 or older, who are frail, or who have the diseases that seem to accompany aging. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people grow older. In some cases, it can improve health for older people who already have diseases and disabilities, if it’s done on a long-term, regular basis.

Physical Health benefits:

  • Helps maintain or lose weight: As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories. When your body reaches a healthy weight, overall wellness improves. 
  • Reduces the impact of illness & chronic disease: Among the many benefits of exercise for seniors include improved immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density, and better digestive functioning. Seniors who exercise also have a lowered risk of several chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and colon cancer. 
  • Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance: Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis. 

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Improves your sleep: Poor sleep is not an automatic consequence of aging and quality sleep is important for your overall health. Exercise often improves sleep, helping you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. 
  • Boosts mood and self-confidence: Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help you feel better and reduce feelings of sadness or depression. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident and sure of yourself. 
  • Exercise is good for the brain: Exercise benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Exercise may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Not sure if you can Exercise

You may be reluctant to start exercising, even though you’ve heard that it’s one of the healthiest things you can do. You may be afraid that physical activity will harm you; or you might think you have to join a gym or buy expensive equipment in order to exercise. Or, you may feel embarrassed to exercise because you think it’s for younger people or for people who look great in gym clothes. You may think exercise is only for people who are able to do things like jogging.

In fact, just about every older adult can safely do some form of physical activity at little or no cost. And you don’t have to exercise in a public place or use expensive equipment, if you don’t want to.

Even household chores can improve your health. The key is to increase your physical activity, by exercising and by using your own muscle power.

Benefits Everyday Life:
The most rewarding part of beginning a fitness routine is noticing the difference it makes in the rest of your life. Even if you begin exercising with a few simple stretches while seated or a short walk around the block, you’ll notice an improvement in how you feel as you go about your day.

  • House cleaning, gardening, shopping, and errands. Want to feel less winded while vacuuming or rushing to and from appointments? Doing just 15 to 20 minutes of heart-healthy cardio each day, such as walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics will help give you the stamina you need. 
  • Lifting grandchildren, carrying groceries, household chores. Building muscle mass a few times each week through weight lifting, resistance exercises, and nautilus machines will help give you more strength. 
  • Tying shoes, looking behind you while driving, navigating steps. Incorporating basic stretching—even while seated—into your fitness routine will make the most ordinary movements easier. 

Check with you doctor if you have…

  1. Chest pain 
  2. Irregular, rapid, or fluttery heart beat 
  3. Severe shortness of breath 
  4. Significant, ongoing weight loss that hasn’t been diagnosed 
  5. Infections, such as pneumonia, accompanied by fever 
  6. Fever, which can cause dehydration and a rapid heart beat 
  7. Acute deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot) 
  8. Hernia that is causing symptoms 
  9. Foot or ankle sores that won’t heal 
  10. Joint swelling 
  11. Persistent pain or a problem walking after you have fallen 
  12. Certain eye conditions, such as bleeding in the retina or detached retina. Before you exercise after a cataract or lens implant, or after laser treatment or other eye surgery, check with your physician. 

DISCLAIMER: Always talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.