Pelvic floor muscle training in female athletes: a randomized controlled pilot study

Review written by Robin Kerr info

Key Points

  1. Stress urinary incontinence involves the involuntary loss of urine on physical effort, including sporting activity or on coughing and sneezing.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Young women practising high impact sports, such as volleyball, have been found to be at risk of developing stress urinary incontinence (1). Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs when there is an involuntary loss of urine associated with physical exertion or coughing and sneezing (2). In high impact sports, the high frequency of intra-abdominal pressure spikes generated by strong abdominal muscle contractions and ground reaction forces may be related to incontinence. Bladder neck hypermobility, pelvic floor muscle, and soft tissue ligamentous supports underperforming under this loading have been implicated.

Many studies have confirmed that pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is an effective intervention for stress urinary incontinence, however few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been performed on elite female athletes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of PFMT in elite volleyball athletes and whether PFMT is an effective therapy for stress urinary incontinence in this high impact sport.

Stress urinary incontinence occurs when there is an involuntary loss of urine associated with physical exertion or coughing and sneezing.
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Physiotherapists should introduce the topic of incontinence and the concept of pelvic floor exercise with the female sporting teams they work with.

METHODS

13 nulliparous and elite female professional volleyball players with no gynaecological history were recruited. The study design was an RCT with concealed allocation and intention to treat analysis. Both groups underwent initial then final analysis at 4 months, involving maximum

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