Unlocking the Power of Your Pelvic Floor

By: Aprill Murphy

Angie Renner, PT

May is Women’s Health Month and a fitting time to talk about your pelvic health. Often overlooked and misunderstood, your pelvic floor plays a crucial role in overall well-being.

So, what is the pelvic floor and why it is important? Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissue attached to the bones at the bottom of the pelvic “bowl”. It is at work 24/7 and has a number of very important jobs including support, stabilization, sexual function and maintaining continence (pee and poop). Because it forms a “sling” or “hammock” at the base of the pelvis, it supports the pelvic organs including the bladder, colon and rectum, and reproductive organs.

The pelvic floor’s role in stabilization involves coordinating with the abdominal, spinal, and respiratory muscles, including the diaphragm. This coordination aims to stabilize the hips and trunk, aiding in maintaining posture and facilitating movements such as walking, working, dancing, and so forth.

The pelvic floor also plays an important role in sexual function.  The ability to contract and relax these muscles helps allow pain-free vaginal penetration, optimize blood flow during intercourse to promote orgasm and also helps with lubrication.

Pelvic floor function is essential in the management of our pee and poop.  The pelvic muscles relax when we are emptying our bladder or moving our bowels.  Alternatively, the muscles contract to help us to hold our urine so as not to leak, and to hold our stool (or gas) until the appropriate time comes.

Here are some tips to help maintain a healthy pelvic floor:

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can put more pressure and strain on the pelvic floor and lead to problems including incontinence and can contribute to back and pelvic pain.

Manage constipation: Chronic constipation and frequent overpressure against the pelvic floor muscles can stretch and weaken the muscles.

Use smart lifting techniques: Heavy lifting and using poor body mechanics can put increased pressure and strain on the core and pelvic floor.  Make sure what you are lifting is manageable, keep it close to your body (versus holding heavy or large objects out away from you), and before you lift remember to engage your core (including pelvic floor and abdominals) and lift with your legs, try to keep your back straight.

Exercise your pelvic floor muscles: It is important to know how to contract the right muscles to keep them strong.  It is also important to know how to relax the pelvic floor muscles, this can help with managing constipation, normal bladder and bowel control and managing pelvic or vaginal pain.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your pelvic health or believe you could benefit from pelvic floor therapy, please to reach out to me at 402-395-3187.