“It felt like my belly was too big for my body, almost like my insides were falling out. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong,” says Michael, an active father who found himself dealing with pelvic floor issues. He had been kneed in the abdomen during a game of pick-up basketball and the pain never went away.
Michael was referred to the Pelvic Floor Health Center at Memorial Herman Memorial City Medical Center, where he learned his pelvic floor muscles were causing the ongoing pain.
“Both men and women have a pelvic floor. Those muscles provide support to your pelvic organs, including your urethra, bladder and bowel. They also stretch from your lower abdomen all the way around your body to your back. So, any time you’re having issues in that area, it’s possible they could be related to your pelvic floor,” says Gail Zitterkopf, PT, DPT, a physical therapist and program manager at the Pelvic Floor Health Center.
Zitterkopf says the most common pelvic floor issue for men is incontinence caused by aging or prostate surgery, but strengthening exercises, often referred to as “kegels,” can be helpful. She offers these tips for doing proper kegels.
- Find the right muscles. Pelvic floor muscles control urination. Identify the right muscles by stopping urination midstream.
- Squeeze and release. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds, then relax for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Exercise while in different positions. Many find it’s easiest to practice kegels while lying down. Once you get the hang of the exercise, try it while sitting, standing or walking.
“If you’re struggling with the exercise, or aren’t seeing much progress, don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment at the Pelvic Floor Health Center. It can be a hard muscle to target, and we’re here to help,” says Zitterkopf.
However, incontinence wasn’t Michael’s issue.
“As I mentioned, pelvic floor muscles stretch from your front to your back. If they are overly tight, or spasming in Michael’s case, they can cause pain and need to be stretched,” says Zitterkopf. “The best advice I can give is to see your doctor if you’re having pain. Don’t try to fix an issue if you don’t really know what’s causing it.”
“The stretching exercises have helped with my pain. I’m not able to return to the basketball court just yet, but I’m hopeful that I will be soon,” says Michael.
For more information on the variety of services offered at Memorial Hermann to improve your pelvic floor health, click here.