Women’s Health

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States

Running a marathon in all 50 states is an incredible accomplishment and something that was high on Meg’s bucket list. She was well on her way, having completed a race in 16 different states when pain set in and had her wondering if she’d ever run a marathon again, let alone 34 more.

Meg’s pain developed in her pubic bone while she was training for the Missoula Marathon. She started stretching prior to each run, but the only thing that eased the pain was to walk, not run. As race time approached Meg could only run one mile before the pain took it’s toll. She considered skipping the race all together but her family had already made plans to make the trek to Montana with her and she didn’t want to let them down. Meg continued her training, knowing she would have to walk quite a bit, and this wouldn’t be her best marathon, but at least she’d be able to cross one more state off her list.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States
On July 10, 2016 Meg completed the Missoula Marathon, but it was the most painful race she’d ever experienced and she did more walking and thinking in that 26.2 miles than she ever had before. It crossed her mind that this might be the last marathon she’d ever run. The pain didn’t go away after the race like it had while training. In fact, the pain was so severe that she had to lift her leg up with her hands just to get into the car. Feeling down, Meg took a month off from running, thinking maybe the pain would subside with some rest. That first run back proved to be equally as painful after only 100 yards.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 StatesMeg’s daughter is her biggest supporter

At this point Meg came to Northern to see if physical therapy could help with her pubic pain. She combined her physical therapy treatments with a visit to a sports doctor who conducted an MRI. Ultimately she discovered she was suffering from inflammation of her pubic area, tendonitis of the groin, and she had a small hernia forming. She had a cortisone shot to relieve her pubic bone pain and took a boot camp classes to strengthen her core. In addition, Meg had a Gait Analysis done by one of our therapists where she learned to adjust her stride when running. All these parts of the puzzle combined to reduce Meg’s pain and teach her how to potentially avoid a flare up in the future.

While Meg is still in the healing process, she’s pretty confident that she will be able to continue her goal of running a marathon in each state. Because it may take her some time to get there, she’s set her sights on a more achievable goal for the near future – to be fit and fabulous at the age of 50 (which she turned this spring), and able to run 4-5 miles pain free.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 StatesMeg’s family came to Montana to cheer her on

At the end of the day it was Meg’s positive attitude that got her through this process. Her ultimate goal still remains getting back to running marathons, but it could take a good year before she can train the way she needs to again. She’s set goals for herself to get stronger and fitter without worrying about the running, and that’s paid off. She can feel a difference in the little bit of running that she is doing because of her improved strength and gait.

Running a marathon is difficult. We’re so happy that Meg didn’t let the pain stop her. She understood there was an underlying problem and through physical therapy, a fitness program, and help from her sports doctor she began the process of healing. When Meg crosses the finish line of her 17th marathon (which we know she will), we’re going to be her #1 supporters, cheering her on the entire way!

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Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States

Pelvic Dysfunction & Physical Therapy on WZZM

Pelvic Dysfunction & Physical Therapy on WZZM

One in four women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, and it’s not just the elderly. As early as the teen years, people may feel unexplained pain in the hips or low back, urinary leakage, or pain in the pelvic region. Often misdiagnosed, the pain can go on for years, but there is a way to treat these conditions and that’s with a pelvic health specialist. We were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the studios of WZZM’s My West Michigan and talk to Catherine Behrendt about this topic, with the hopes of reaching people who are struggling with these issues.

Gina Otterbein and Melissa VanKampen, both based in our Coopersville clinic, are two of our pelvic health specialists.
Pelvic Dysfunction & Physical Therapy on WZZM
Melissa spoke briefly about our upcoming Healthy Pelvic series, which features three different events focusing on nutrition and a healthy pelvis, childbearing years, and menopause. The first of these three events takes place on Saturday, April 30. You can get more details on our events page.
Pelvic Dysfunction & Physical Therapy on WZZM

View the entire segment below.

Check out our previous segments on My West Michigan where we talked about weight lossusing an exercise ball, the 3 minute exercise routine, concussions in student athletes and senior health.

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Pelvic Dysfunction & Physical Therapy on WZZM

Urinary Incontinence and Physical Therapy

Urinary Incontinence and Physical Therapy

It can happen to the best of us when we least expect it. Sharing a good laugh with friends when the unexpected leakage of urine shows up. Or perhaps it was during pregnancy, for some us, that occasional leakage just came with the territory….or so we thought.

Urinary incontinence is the leakage of urine at inappropriate times. With incontinence, you may have trouble starting the urine stream or holding urine when you feel a strong urge to go. This condition involves the muscles of the pelvic floor, which attach to the bottom of the pelvic bones and run front to back, forming a bowl-like structure that lifts to support the internal organs and controls the sphincter muscles. The pelvic-floor muscles also help support the low back, stabilize the pelvic bones, and help with sexual function. Women are more likely than men to have urinary incontinence, but men can have it, too.

There are different types of incontinence:
Stress incontinence – small amounts of urine leak when there is increased pressure on the bladder.
Urge incontinence – your bladder muscle goes into spasm, and, if the spasm is severe enough, medium to large amounts of urine may leak; this might happen only occasionally or as often as every 15 to 20 minutes.
Mixed incontinence – you have both stress and urge incontinence.
Functional incontinence – urine leaks when you can’t get to the bathroom in time.

Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence usually results from weakness and lack of support in the pelvic-floor muscles. It can happen with laughing, sneezing, or coughing or with exercise or activities such as lifting. Women with stress incontinence often have “underactive” pelvic floor muscles as a result of:
– pregnancy and childbirth which can put stress or pressure on the bladder and possibly cause trauma to the pelvic-floor muscles, injury or trauma
– surgery in the vagina or rectum
– episiotomy
– lack of exercise and lack of use
– after delivery women also can have fecal incontinence (leakage of stool) if there was tearing of the vaginal opening that extends to the anal sphincter

Urge Incontinence
With urge incontinence, you may or may not have pelvic-floor muscle weakness or pelvic muscle tension or spasm.

Functional Incontinence

In functional incontinence, the cause isn’t related directly to the bladder or pelvic-floor muscles:
– Joint pain or muscle weakness that cause you to move with difficulty
– Confusion, dementia, or delirium
– Environmental barriers, such as the bathroom being too far away, the use of a walker that slows you down, or too many obstacles that you have to walk around to get to the bathroom
– Psychological problems such as depression or anger
– You can also have an “overactive bladder” where your bladder empties frequently throughout the day (more than every 3 or 4 hours during the day) or makes you get up more than once to urinate at night. There is a variety of causes, such as sensitivities to certain foods or beverages.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help with Urinary Incontinence?

Based on our evaluation results, we will individualize treatments to strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles and improve their function. We can help you:
– Gain control over your symptoms
– Reduce the need for pads and special undergarments, incontinence medications, and possibly surgery
– Strengthen your muscles and make them work better for you

Your physical therapist will:

– Show you how to “find” the right muscles and use them correctly.
– Use pelvic-floor exercises to help you strengthen your muscles so that you can better control your bladder. Pelvic-floor exercises include “kegels,” in which you gently squeeze the sphincter muscles and squeeze the buttocks, thighs, and stomach muscles.
– Instruct you in exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles, so that they can support proper bladder function.
– Depending on your symptoms and level of discomfort, your physical therapist may decide to use biofeedback to make you aware of how your pelvic-floor muscles work and how you can control them better. Electrodes attached vaginally or rectally will provide measurements of muscle activity and display them on a monitor, and the therapist will work with you to help you understand and change those readings. The therapist also may use electrical stimulation to improve your awareness of your muscles and increase muscle strength.

Remember: Knowledge Is Power

We can provide information regarding your diet and nutrition, including food and drinks that may irritate the bladder, changing behaviors that make symptoms worse, and ways to decrease urinary urge and frequency. At Northern we have a number of physical therapists who are trained extensively in treating pelvic floor issues as well as women’s health. Call the location closest to you to find out how we can begin helping you today.

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Urinary Incontinence and Physical Therapy



Allendale > 6173 Lake Michigan Dr.
Caledonia > 9321 Cherry Valley
Cedar Springs > 308 S. Main
Comstock Park > 4615 W. River Dr.
Coopersville > 25 Conran
Grant > 17615 W. Moore
Lowell > 2050 W. Main
Norton Shores > 6022 Harvey
Sparta > 31 Ida Red
Wayland > 709 West Superior


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