Do you think your pelvic floor muscles are as important as everyone says they are?
Really think about that! Do you even know what they do?
These muscles have so many roles and really important ones too:
Especially considering most of these are done without you thinking of them.
Pretty intuitive body we have isn’t it?
So where do things go wrong?
Pregnancy – just the physical load on your body and the anatomy of your pelvic floor is enough to cause issues. Worse if you're not strong to start with.
Labour – 4 times more likely to have pelvic floor dysfunction if you have forceps or vacuum used during labour. Also add in just the generic trauma associated with labour to this area and the muscles take time to recover and get started again.
Genetically – your pelvic floor consists of muscles and connective tissue based on type I & III collagen fibres which also has a genetical link so some people are more prone to weakness in their pelvic floor without any other contributing factor. (Hence why I love collagen support – read more on collagen )
Weight training – heavy prolonged weight training without the appropriate engaging of your pelvic floor or correct technique for your pelvis puts you at a higher risk of having pelvic floor dysfunction.
Coughing – prolonged coughing can increase the pressure load acting downwards on the pelvic floor muscles, if the muscles can't sustain it with strength or active engagement when coughing issues can occur.
Bowel Straining - As above with the pressure pushing down on the muscles, they sometimes don't cope. Especially if this has been chronic constipation or straining.
Alcohol, caffeine & dehydration – they can make your urine more acidic which can make you need to urinate more frequently which can change the way the bladder works and how it interacts with the pelvic floor. (read more on bladder)
Pain – pelvic pain, back pain, endometriosis etc can make these muscles switch off or slow down like they aren't quite getting the message from the brain. Not to mention to trauma of birth within the pelvis.
How does it feel when your pelvic floor muscles aren't working properly?
How do you fix a pelvic floor problem?
First of all, you need to know where your pelvic floor is…
It's shaped like a hammock or a half moon running between your pubic bone at the front and your tailbone at the back around in a loop so when the muscles contract they shorten and close off the area.
Obviously there is a lot of structures here from ligaments, bones, blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue but the muscles of the deep pelvic floor are:
Do we always need to do pelvic floor exercises?
Simple answer is yes. But think of it like this, do you always need to eat well to feel good? Or put petrol in your car for it to work? Do you want your muscles to be functioning well when you’re into your 80’s and live a great life to exercise and move about like you want to?
It's also best to have a pelvic floor exercise program that targets your muscles specifically so you can feel what it feels like to you when your pelvic floor muscles are working well. Everyone is different and everyone will feel it differently. Then you can add more functional movements so your body learns to use these muscles again without you thinking about it. Like our programs at PPF!
So what can you do?
Well for starters take this pelvic floor quiz so you have an idea of how strong you are! Click on the button below!
Then get started! No matter where you are on your journey we have a program for you - see the button below for more info.
I'm Melanie, a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.
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