Do More For Your Pelvic Floor!
You’ve probably heard the term pelvic floor quite a bit and you’re not alone if you haven’t or if you don’t know what it is to begin with. This is exactly why I’m writing this post. This is different from my usual blog posts and some may find this pretty boring to read, but it’s an important topic that we often don’t spend enough time talking (or blogging) about! I will try to keep this post light while still educational. My hope is that this is a good starting place for you to get the initial low down on your pelvic floor. A lot of the info found in this post was taken from the certification course I completed with Bellies Inc.
Before I begin, I should start by saying that I am a big advocate of seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist during pregnancy, after childbirth and for sure before starting any fitness routine. For the record, I saw one myself at the Proactive Pelvic Health Centre here in Toronto. If you need help in finding one near you, send me a message and maybe I can help. Do not skip this step - pelvic physio is key to optimal recovery after having your babe!
Your Pelvic Floor is Part of Your Core
The true core goes beyond the abs and actually includes the Diaphragm, the Pelvic Floor, the Transversus Abdominus and the Multifidus. Although all four must work together for optimal movement, for purposes of this post I will focus on the pelvic floor only.
What are the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The muscles of the pelvic floor connect to the pubic bone in the front, to the tailbone in the back, as well as the sitz bones. Think of it as being structured as a trampoline or a hammock-like structure.
In addition to providing support and stability to your spine and pelvis, these muscles keep the pelvic organs in place while also contributing significantly to sexual response and helping guide your little baby’s head down the birth canal. Another thing to mention is that optimally working pelvic floor muscles will tighten to prevent you from peeing when you sneeze, exercise or jump rope with your kiddies. Bottom line, they are important muscles that are often overlooked!
But Where Are My Pelvic Floor Muscles Really?
The pelvic floor muscles are found at the base or the lowest opening of the pelvis – this is the area around which you would most likely sit. The actual muscles themselves are internal and cannot be seen from the outside. If you want to locate them try placing both of your hands under you with palms facing up and sit with your fingers under your sitting bones. From side to side, this is where the pelvic floor muscles spans. To find the area from front to back, find your pubic bone at the front and tailbone at the tip of the spine.
Ways to Identify Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
These aren’t exactly “fun” ways to explore, but they help you find your pelvic floor muscles quickly and efficiently.
1. Stop the stream of urine while going to the pee. Do this only as a means to discover your muscles, but not as a regular exercise.
2. Imagine yourself trying to stop passing gas and while doing so attempt to lift and squeeze the muscles around the anus.
3. See a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can take you through various exercises and cues that can assist you in identifying your pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Urinary incontinence, organ prolapse, pain during intercourse, and pelvic pain are some of the more common types of pelvic floor dysfunction. Many people think that it’s only during pregnancy and childbirth that you will impact your pelvic floor muscles, but that’s not always the case. Other reasons that your pelvic floor muscles may be weakened include:
· Increased amount of heavy lifting
· Pushing to finish emptying your bladder
· Straining to use your bowels
· Lack of use
· Hormonal changes – this can be during pregnancy or even in menopause
· Carrying extra weight
"Tell Me More About My Pelvic Floor!"
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I am a big advocate for pelvic phsyio. Every woman (whether they are a mother or not) should see one to get a detailed internal assessment of her pelvic floor. I have only scraped the surface here in this post, but I hope that this is a good intro for you to get more in tune with your pelvic floor muscles, as well as serving as a reminder to book an appointment with your pelvic floor physiotherapist.
So yes, the stronger the pelvic floor muscles during and after pregnancy, and the better the pelvic floor muscles are working, the less risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. Once you seek assistant from a pelvic floor physiotherapist, they can also provide you with the right exercises to do daily during pregnancy and after. Some may offer tools such as The Elvie Trainer, but many will simply start with teaching you how to breathe in such a way to engage your pelvic floor. Once you perfect this breathing technique, you are well on your way.
I promise to come back to this topic and interview a physiotherapist who can take a deeper dive into achieving and maintaining a strong and well-working pelvic floor! In the meantime, good luck and always remember to do more for your pelvic floor!
Photography by: Leon Chai Photography