Pelvic floor strength at core of new study

14-Aug-2017

Exercise and Sports Science lecturer Dr Daniel Gahreman (left) and Nursing lecturer Donelle Cross. Photo: Julianne Osborne

Exercise and Sports Science lecturer Dr Daniel Gahreman (left) and Nursing lecturer Donelle Cross. Photo: Julianne Osborne


Charles Darwin University researchers are seeking women to be involved in the first Australian study aimed at determining if resistance training improves pelvic floor strength.

The project, led by Professor of Nursing Marilynne N Kirshbaum, aims to discover whether resistance training may be recommended as a safe alternative to traditional pelvic floor exercises, to improve strength and reduce incontinence in women.

Senior lecturer in Nursing and powerlifting coach Lolita Wikander said participants would learn about their body composition, maximum strength and pelvic floor condition – and may be surprised at their own ability.

“This study will be life-changing for those who commit to the end,” Ms Wikander said. “It can be empowering for women to discover how physically strong they actually are.”

People taking part in the project will receive 24 free weights training sessions over 12 weeks with supportive coaching from Ms Wikander, who is a champion powerlifter.

“Exercising the pelvic floor can be difficult because you can’t see it, but you engage it as part of your core when you lift heavy weights correctly,” she said. “As more people have the conversation, quality of life for women who struggle with strength and incontinence will improve.”

Exercise and Sports Science lecturer Dr Daniel Gahreman, Nursing lecturer Donelle Cross and a qualified women’s health physiotherapist are also involved in the research. 

The team from CDU’s School of Health and the School of Psychology and Clinical Sciences is seeking women who do not have resistance training experience and who do not routinely do pelvic floor exercises. 

The training has strict safety guidelines and is not suitable for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have uterine prolapse. 

The research findings may inform Continence Australia guidelines, and the coaching of female weightlifters.

To enquire about taking part in the study, E: lolita.wikander@cdu.edu.au