Updated: Dec 18, 2019
So, I actually didn't know a thing about my pelvic floor until after I had my daughter. But I wish I did. In case you’re in the same boat, here’s a brief introduction.
Your pelvic floor (PF) is a set of muscles and connective tissue that sit inside of your pelvis. Add in your diaphragm, transverse abs and multifidus (see image below), and you have your inner core. Together, these muscles are a team that is essential to maintenance of an upright posture and stability through the torso during movement and lifting.
These muscles form a canister, with the diaphragm on top and the PF on the bottom- the transverse abs and multifidus form the walls. As the bottom of the canister, the PF also provides support for all of your organs that lie above it.
In addition to supporting your organs and contributing to your overall stability, your PF also helps maintain continence (control of your bladder and bowel) and contributes to sexual sensation.
In an optimally functioning PF, the muscles aren’t too tight or too lax. They’re juuuust right. But for many people, these muscles tend towards one extreme or the other. Muscles can become tight due to overtraining, chronic stress and anxiety, physical trauma or abuse. Muscles may be too loose as a result of a variety of factors including pregnancy and aging.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of a tight or loose PF can look outwardly similar. For example, both can cause incontinence (leaking), pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction. The treatments for either extreme are different, making it really important that if you do experience any unusual pelvic symptoms you don’t self-treat with a million kegels. If you think you need to do a million kegels, it’s time to reach out for help (another plug for pelvic floor physical therapy!).
If you're experiencing pelvic discomfort or leaking during exercise or functional movements of daily life, consider consulting with myself or another qualified pre/postnatal personal trainer. Good alignment, breathing and movement strategies can go a long way towards improving and eliminating leaking and discomfort during exercise and movement, and are part of good long-term pelvic health maintenance.