MOJO loves our teachers and administrators! All of our MOJO PTs have spent 20+ years being educated by you all, and we would love the opportunity to repay you by helping you and supporting you to have a healthy pelvic floor both during your teaching years and after!
For our teachers, we want you to know we are seeing more and more teachers with bladder and pelvic floor issues. So if you’ve noticed some changes, you aren't alone!
So many teachers have limited access to bathroom breaks, are holding tension in their pelvic floors due to stress, are having to raise their voice to project (which ALSO strains the pelvic floor,) and many are spending their days standing on hard floors, leaning over desks and tables, or cramming into small kid chairs to do their work, all of which affect your pelvic floor and its strength and ability to function properly.
So many teachers tell us they have to run down the hall between the bells to squeeze in a bathroom break. Many are wearing pads or adult diapers due to leaking or dribbling (for years!) Others say they are waking multiple times at night to go to the bathroom or barely making it in time immediately after they feel the urge to go.
The fact that you all are saying similar things is not a coincidence, it is a pattern, a very common one, and one that as pelvic health PTs, we want to help you all break.
We want you to be able to spend your time in the classroom or assemblies feeling confident and not distracted by your bowel or bladder issues. We also want you to spend your retirement healthy and strong and not limited by issues that impact how far you can travel, what activities you want to do, or how you feel about yourself. Working on these issues NOW is the best way to help ensure that!
Here are our top tips specifically catered to our teachers, but applicable to all:
NO HOVERING! PLEASE ALWAYS SIT!
Wipe the seat, or put paper down if little ones sprinkle. This is probably the single most important habit to break or change! The posture of hovering over the toilet stops the natural bladder/pelvic floor mechanism from doing its job.
When you hover, you keep your pelvic floor muscles on instead of letting them turn off like they do in sitting or DEEP squatting. That's why you often have to push to empty while hovering. You're pushing through this natural system that is there for a very important reason! Hovering tells your pelvic floor that it doesn't matter that your pelvic floor is on, it can still empty.
This is a HUGE issue because eventually, your bladder may start leaking or emptying even if you aren't over a toilet! You may still be walking to the bathroom, or standing up from a chair, or trying to close the door and get your pants down, BUT, your bladder can't tell the difference between that and hovering, so it makes it SO hard to stop the flow. We need this pattern of sitting/pelvic rest, and then bladder activation to happen each and every time so our bodies know ONLY then, is it ok to empty.
LOTS of all CAPS because we REALLY want this habit to stop! Tell your friends!
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
It's common to need to go more often in the morning due to the consumption of fruit juices, smoothies, coffee, tea, etc. which are all technically bladder “irritants.” Tag team with other teachers or administrators so you all get more frequent breaks when needed. We promise you, they probably need it too.
Go when you need to go, and try not to just go just to go. This can cause your bladder to shorten its capacity for stretch, and it can teach your bladder not to communicate to you when it is full because it will just assume you are taking it to the bathroom whenever even if it never sent you a message.
Try to monitor your time between bathroom breaks. If you're going less than 2 hours every time or longer than 4 hours, we would love to help with an assessment and some training tools for you. Your bladder shouldn't be holding you hostage and we can help if it feels that way.
Many teachers find themselves sitting on the floor or in tiny chairs. This can strain the pelvic floor, back, neck, etc. Even though you might be taller than your "classmates", your ergonomics matter too! If you're noticing discomfort, let us know and we can assist. We can even do a virtual ergonomics assessment so you get the setup that is needed for YOU!
So many teachers refrain from drinking water during the day so they can avoid bathroom breaks. When the body isn't staying hydrated, this affects multiple things, but it also makes the urine more concentrated, which the bladder doesn't love, so you will still get the urge (often more strongly) to empty. Also, if you sip more often instead of guzzling, this helps with filling the bladder more slowly. When guzzling, your body maxes out on the amount it can filter and utilize at one time, so oftentimes, half your guzzle just goes straight to the bladder.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
We know this is hard. We see the hours you're putting in. The after school parent/teacher meetings, the Target trips for supplies and activity planning, the classroom decorating and cleaning, the grading, the prepping. We know your days often go above and beyond when the kids are actually in your rooms. Try to schedule in some time each month to do things that really bring you joy: going for a walk, taking a meditation or yoga class, reading for fun, scheduling a massage or bodywork, seeing your pelvic PT :) etc.
In a year unlike others in immediate history, we want you to know we see you. We hear you. We understand you.
We know you've got more pressure on you, more daily tasks, more challenges and strains, but we also see you giving the same amount of love and dedication to your work and to our kids. Yes, we care about your pelvic health, but we mostly just want you to know that we appreciate you and support you and are eternally grateful to each one of you for your impact on us as well as on our children.
We would not be able to do the work that we do today if it were not for the teachers along the way who saw us, who challenged us, who told us to keep going, and who believed in us. Thank you. Now let us take care of you!
--Amy Moses, PT, DPT, OMT