On ‘Yer Bike Girls!

CONGRATS Bradley Wiggins - winner of the 2012 Tour de France bike race.

In recession Britain we need as much good news as we can get so sharing in his success this weekend is as welcome as saying goodbye to the recent rains and floods. Hopefully the combination of 'Bradley-cycle-mania', good weather and visions of those uber-fit Olympians will trickle down to us couch potatoes and trigger a whole new wave of cycling activity.

It's about time too, because a recent OECD report found Britain has the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the EU - making us almost as fat as our American counterparts.

An impressive 27 million of us here in the UK own bikes - no-doubt that figure is rising rapidly following Bradley's success - however, many of us just don't use them. Kegel8 is here to tell you - it's time to get on your bike, and here's why:

  • Cycling is perfect if you have a weak pelvic floor or pelvic organ prolapse (POP) - because it isn't a weight-bearing exercise, and your body is supported.
  • Cycling burns up 300 calories an hour. A recent study looking into menopause and stress incontinence found that it wasn't menopause itself that caused bladder weakness it was the weight gained during menopause that caused the incontinence.
  • Cycling is good for your heart - cycle 20 miles a week and you'll reduce the chance of suffering heart problems by half.

The Bike Seat Dilemma

We love you Bradley - but you can keep your drop handle bars and your razor sharp bike seat.

Bike seats have been shown to cause erection problems in men and it seems that we females are not immune either. In a recent Yale study women cyclists (compared to runners) reported less genital sensation - now as many of us know, a weak pelvic floor and POP can also reduce intimate sensation and this is just what we don't need to hear. We want to be fit, we want to be healthy with a strong pelvic floor and by-goodness - we want that sexy-sensation back again!

The Yale researchers found that if we lean forward, flatten our back and put our hands on the “drop bars” for an aerodynamic position we put more pressure on our perineum and this causes the problem. So how can we avoid a 'numb crotch'? Simple - adjust your handle bars up, sit up straight and invest in a comfy bike seat! Larger seats offer more support so you can sit on all three 'sit' bones (tripod) and seats with a hollowed out centre takes the pressure off your perineum completely.

Therapist Tasha Mulligan, on the Prolapse Health Forum says 'Riding my bike requires me to hinge at the hips and reach forward with my arms in perfect posture to lift "everything" by drawing all the connective tissue and fascial supports taught, as you are required to keep your chest up and head up when riding. So great for my prolapse. And as for seats...comfortable means something different to every rider. Knowing that you should aim to be riding with pressure on your "tripod", often a middle depression or cut out will decrease the friction up front on your pubic bone.'

Let us know how you get on (not literally) with the bike riding and let's see if we get fit and strong together!

6 thoughts on “On ‘Yer Bike Girls!”

  • Shona t

    Interesting article I thought my 'oops' moments were due to the Change, Bugger will really have to lose that extra stone,,,

  • Kim williams
    Kim williams 14/01/2017 at 21:26

    I am a off-road mountain biker and have a prolapse. What about riding on the rough terrain. Is that ok or not. Nobody seems to be able to tell me.

  • Ceri Anson
    Ceri Anson 17/01/2017 at 13:35

    This style of cycling is going to put pressure on the pelvic floor. You would do well to learn a few techniques from a physio with regards to bracing, bending your knees on impact etc. (maybe you do that already!). A pelvic floor physio will be able to help you develop safe techniques – I’m concerned about the exertion and sudden jolts – you need to ‘shore up’ as much as possible for these.

    Invest in a pair of EVB Sports shorts – they give an extra 71% support to the pelvic floor (http://www.kegel8.co.uk/evb-sports-support-shorts-11880.html).

    Strengthen your pelvic floor as much as possible.

    I guess if you cycle your BMI will be low, if not get as on-target with your weight as possible – it all helps.

    Physio Michelle Kenway recommends the following:

    • Upright cycling – avoid leaning too far forward
    • When sitting in the saddle your straight leg should have a slight bend at the knee
    • Adjust your bike seat for prolapse – transmit weight evenly through the sit bones
    • Gel bike seats make it comfier to cycle with a prolapse

    She also recommends the following, which I know will disappoint you:

    • Cycling in low gears is best for those with prolapse
    • Avoid steep hills to avoid prolapse strain while cycling
    • If you’ve had prolapse surgery check with your healthcare team if it is safe for you to start cycling again.

    Have you tried using a pessary for temporary support whilst biking? Ask at your GP surgery, many women use temporary protection while performing sport to give that extra bit of support.

    I know you’d like me to say it’s OK, but I really can’t. I believe there are high impact moments to your style of cycling with prolapse, but I am not a medical expert! The main priority for you is to maintain your prolapse where it is (I don’t know if you have had surgery). You need to make sure it does not get any worse, and descent is so hard to reverse.

    Check out Tanya Mulligan on You Tube too (Hab-it DVD, free clips on You Tube, ignore sound quality her advice is brilliant) – a Physio with prolapse who competes in cross country. Great tips for posture and returning to sport.

    The one thing I must add is that if you keep doing what you have done, you will possibly get another prolapse – make some changes to your posture, weight, pelvic floor strength etc and this should get you in a strong place to make sure that living with prolapse is manageable and life changing in a really positive way.

    Here to help,

    Stephanie

  • alison

    Hi Kim,

    I have just written a blog about this. I am not a physio - the best advice you can get is from an individual assessment with your pelvic floor physio.

    However I am a postnatal fitness trainer with an indepth knowledge of the pelvic floor and prolapse. I aslo am a mountain biker and have prolapse. Moving my seat position has been the best advice for me personally, and wearing a pessary, so that I can still do what I love!

    check out my blog www.realfitnessformums.blog

    I hope it helps =)

  • Kim

    Thanks for that.

    I have now got and ebike and am sticking to smoother tracks and the road.

    I would like to know more about temporary pessaries for support have read about them but not sure what is best. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  • Laura Hague

    Hi Kim,
    Pessaries are a great choice for self-care and much more body-friendly than surgery! When choosing a pessary one of the most important things is to get the correct size, if the pessary falls out it is a sign that pelvic floor exercise is needed and would be of great benefit for a pessary user. Using an electronic pelvic toner like the Kegel8 Ultra 20 engages 90% of the pelvic floor muscles rather than just 40% that are engaged during manual Kegels. Please take a look at this fantastic blog which is all about choosing the right pessary for you http://www.stressnomore.co.uk/blog/2016/07/06/what-is-a-pessary-and-do-i-need-one-our-guide-will-tell-you-everything-you-need-to-know/ I hope this helps, Laura

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