Hayes and Chelsea leading way on pelvic floor health education

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Hayes and Chelsea leading way on pelvic floor health education

On this week’s Real Talk episode, Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes, alongside elite athletes from the worlds of netball and gymnastics, discuss pelvic floor health and its impact on sportswomen.

Hayes raises the importance of having more education and awareness around the subject, especially from a younger age, and shares how Chelsea have begun educating players by enlisting a pelvic health specialist – the first Women’s Super League club to do so.

Indeed, Chelsea are leading the way in this space. The issues affecting female players, Hayes highlights, are entirely separate from those that regularly impinge upon male athletes. The Blues boss, one of four female head coaches in the WSL, wants attention on women’s health issues to become the norm, in sport and wider society.

“I always remember school sex education being about how to put a condom on. No one told me anything about periods, menstruation in general,” Hayes tells Sky Sports. “So many girls and women have to organically learn along the way. It’s not widely accessible, there isn’t enough education at school age to be able to transfer into wider society.

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“I was more acutely aware [about pelvic floor health] after I had a child.

“When Melanie Leupolz [Chelsea midfielder] had a baby, I wanted to make sure she avoided all the pitfalls I’d experienced. The best way it was put to me was: ‘you’ll have to deal with it at one point in your life, deal with it at an early age’.

“Working on pelvic floor control is critical to your epicentre, your balance, the way you move, the way you pee.

“It gets overlooked because of lack of knowledge and lack of awareness. Every adult female struggles with it at some point. It’s best to be on top of that.”

May 2, 2021, Kington Upon Thames, United Kingdom: Kington Upon Thames, England, 2nd May 2021. Emma Hayes manager of Chelsea celebrates the win during the UEFA Women's Champions League match at Kingsmeadow, Kington Upon Thames. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage(Credit Image: © Paul Terry/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

Image: Emma Hayes and Chelsea are leading the way on the importance of women’s specific health issues that readily affect female athletes

Speaking about introducing Emma Brockwell, a specialist in the field, to work with Chelsea’s players around the importance of pelvic health and the benefit of tailored exercise to maintain control of pelvic floor, Hayes added: “You know when people say: ‘oh do that, the men’s side are doing it’, I say: ‘I don’t care, they aren’t women’.

The reality is, we have to deal with so many different things – wider hips, different angles, body parts, menstrual cycles. Unfortunately that expertise isn’t widely known.

“I’ve found we’ve had to work with the very best in those fields to almost set the standards. Not just about pelvic floor, but about injury prevention, recovery from those injuries and many other issues.

“There’s a lack of expertise. We have the best working with us here, but how many of those are there in this space? We need an education around female physiology within sport and all the different nuances. There is generic health work being done around athletes but specifically with women, I still think there is a long way to go.”

Real Talk is a series from Sky Sports spotlighting topics that aren’t readily spoken about within a sporting context. Please a follow, like, or subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts.

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