Netball season is fast approaching, and many women will be returning to play for the first time after giving birth. What can be an exciting and very social time of the year for a large majority of women can also be a time where the use of sanitary items increases. Netball is a fast-paced high impact sport involving stop-start play, directional changes and jumping. It can have a large impact on the body more specifically the pelvic floor, especially after returning from having a baby.
Research has found that 1 in 3 females experience incontinence with playing netball and half of these women have had children. Of those experiencing incontinence it was found that only 8% of netballers sought professional assistance to address their incontinence. This means most women experiencing incontinence aren’t seeking assistance.
It was found that instead of seeking professional help to address incontinence most women were choosing to use sanitary items such as pads or would choose to limit or cease their participation in sport all together. Sanitary items will ease the discomfort and embarrassment of incontinence however they are not a cure but rather mask the incontinence.
Some women will also try doing pelvic floor exercises or kegels to try and address their incontinence. It is advised that professional assistance be sought to ensure correct exercise prescription which is meeting the needs of the individual.
A large majority of women will stop participating in exercise, sport or jumping on the trampoline with their children due to incontinence. Many believe that incontinence is something that women must live with as they get older. THIS IS NOT TRUE! There is plenty that can be done to manage if not cure incontinence. The first step is identifying that there is an issue and seeking help from a trained health professional. Incontinence may be common, but it is not normal. The more we can reduce the stigma of incontinence and discuss it freely the easier it is to find help.
A trained health professional will be able to help you safely return to high impact sport such as netball, hockey and soccer after childbirth or address the issues that may be present in the absence of child birth. If you find your symptoms are worsening, not improving or would like to have a check-up then we encourage you book in with a women’s health physio.
Author: Laura Murphy, B.Sc.Physiotehrapy, Staff Physiotherapist (Women’s Health)