Know Your Body: Pelvic Floor Muscles

The pelvic floor is a whole muscle group that not only protects organs and for every woman (men also) is important to be aware of them and work on them. Let's find out why and what exercises to choose.



The pelvic floor has many functions and it is much more important than you may know! For women, it is especially important to train the muscles of the pelvic floor during and after delivery of the baby. However, up to a third of all women experience a problem with their pelvic floor muscles at some time during their life. Many women don't know where their pelvic floor muscles are and they don't practice any exercise to strengthen these muscles.





The Pelvic Floor

This muscle group is a part of muscles referred to as your 'core'. They are located in your pelvis and they work with your deep abdominal and back muscles as well as with the diaphragm to stabilize and support your spine.




Pelvic Floor Muscles Functions

As I already said, pelvic floor muscles protect our organs, such as the support of the bladder, bowel, and uterus. They lie across the base of your pelvis to help keep the pelvic organs in the correct position, help to maintain correct posture, provide support for your lower back. They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the vaginal sensation and your ability to grip. During pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process.


A weak pelvic floor can cause issues such as:

  • incontinence

  • leakage with coughing, sneezing, or laughing

  • often and sudden need to go on the toilet

  • uncontrollable passing of wind

  • painful sex

It is important to mention, not all women with symptoms or issues have weak pelvic floor muscles. Very often they just need to learn how to use their pelvic floor muscles the right way and at the right time. Just like any other muscle group in your body should keep strong, same for the pelvic floor.



What Can Cause Problems With The Pelvic Floor Muscles


The weakened pelvic floor muscles are not only one issue, they can be either overstretched, slow to work, or too tight.

  • pregnancy and childbirth - can cause issues especially when assisted vaginal birth, an episiotomy, or significant tear or a very large baby

  • chronic constipation - can cause overstretching and weakness

  • heavy or repeated lifting - increases abdominal pressure, which may put the pelvic floor under strain

  • high impact exercise - can overload the pelvic floor muscles

  • being very overweight and diabetes - increased pressure

  • smoking - may cause a regular cough that may put pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor

  • menopause

  • neurological conditions


How To Find/Connect With Your Pelvic Floor Muscles


Make yourself comfortable in a sitting or lying position and imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind (find the best position for you to feel your muscles contracting) and urine at the same time. When you squeeze you may feel a lifting up and tighten as your muscles of the pelvic floor contract. Relax muscles of your thighs, bottom, and abdomen, and remember to keep calm and continuous breathing like when you do any exercise. After every contraction, it is important to relax the muscles. Do up to 10 repetitions of 10 seconds of a hold. This you can practice anytime during the day, or/and when you are on the toilet. Nowadays, you can also use the help of technology, check this device that helps with pelvic floor muscles strenght.

As we already know, pelvic floor muscles are part of the 'core', which means they need to be flexible and able to relax as well as lift and hold. It is important to understand that also constant bracing of your 'core' muscles can lead to muscle tightness and stiffness. Therefore, we need to be aware of our body and between exercises relax our muscles as well.





Make It Part Of Your Routine


It is recommended to do this exercise at least 3 times each day. You can include this in your daily routine when you do your workout or stretches, at work, when you sitting or standing. You can practice these exercises whilst doing activities anytime during the day and in different positions.


TIP: Put a reminder on your phone, try one of the pelvic floor exercises apps, remember when you are on the toilet, or do them during your regular journey in the car, bus, or train.


Conclusion


Pelvic floor muscles are a very important muscle group. Although, it is very easy to make it a habit to involve these muscles during the day and be aware of them.





 
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