Managing your Endometriosis with Movement | Exercise Physiology Brisbane
Endometriosis, also known as “Endo,” is a life-long (chronic) condition that affects the female reproductive organs. This includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue that lines the pelvis (endometrium). Endometriosis effects 1 in 10 women, but that figure could be higher due to misdiagnosing and under reporting, plus… diagnosis can take up to 8-10 years! There is no known cause and research is still being conducted to determine a concrete answer to this question. Endometriosis affects all aspects of an individual’s life including physical, financial, social/relationships, emotional & mental health.
Endometriosis is a condition fuelled by estrogen, where the “endometrial-like tissue” grows on the outside of the uterus, fallopian tubes, bowel and intestines. In serve cases it can also establish itself on the diaphragm, kidneys or brain. The body cannot remove this tissue growth, so with every menstrual cycle scare tissue forms.
How exactly? Well, with each period the endometrial-like tissue acts as the endometrial tissue would, it thickens, breaks down and bleeds. However, this tissue has no way of exiting the body, so it becomes trapped, causing scare tissue and adhesions.
Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Painful periods – including pelvic pain and cramping
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Ovarian Cysts
- Gastrointestinal issues (e.g. constipation)
It is important to note that the severity of pain does not necessarily correlate with severity or stage of endometriosis.
Exercise and Endometriosis
Despite there being no cure, we can help you manage your endometriosis, specifically with exercise intervention! Through completing exercise that is guided by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist we will aim to maintain your activity levels through these cycles of pain & flare ups, increase your exercise tolerance and manage your experienced symptoms. A recent study showed that those who completed a general exercise program for 8 weeks had a significant decrease in severity of pain and improved posture. So, you can imagine the success of a personalised program paired with consistent exercise!
- Pain relief:
- Improve pain tolerance àExposure to chronic pain causes a decreased pain threshold and pain begins to radiate and effect other areas of the body.
- Increased exercise tolerance as a result of pain management.
- Improved strength and length in muscle groups along the front side of body & pelvic floor.
- Surgery prehab and rehab.
- Hormonal management à balance estrogen which fuels endometriosis. Decrease insulin & cortisol levels which increase as a result of the inflammation.
- Inflammatory control à increase anti-inflammatory markers.
- Improved quality of life.
How can Reformer Pilates Help?
Due to the intense pain of endometriosis, women spend increased amounts of time hunched over or in a foetal position. Therefore, muscles through the front line of their body become very tight and movement is restricted. We also see the development of a “hunched” posture or “rounded shoulders.” The initial priority during exercise is to stretch tight muscle groups and then strengthen these areas, before moving to exercises that improve total body strength and posture. With Reformer Pilates at our studio in Milton, Brisbane, we do all of that in every session!
The Reformer allows the recommended stretches to be completed in a dynamic way that is more comfortable than completing them on the floor. Thus, allowing you to find a supported, deeper stretch, without getting into any wild positions!
On the Reformer you can exercise while lying down and you are elevated off the floor, so we can comfortably strengthen your deep core and pelvic floor muscles after they have been lengthened. Plus, the capability of the Reformer to provide a vast array of modifiable exercises means that absolutely anyone can use it, regardless of pain levels, injury or medical history.
In Pilates, breathwork is the crux of all movements. With endometriosis, the incorporation of “belly breathwork” helps muscles to relax. Women particularly need to learn how to correctly relax and activate their pelvic floor muscles with breath. This can be taught through a range of Pilates-specific exercises.
So, if you want to come and give Reformer Pilates in Brisbane a try for yourself, or have any questions, please contact us below!