What is the Pelvic Floor?
This video is a clip from a workshop I taught all about the functions of the pelvic floor. If you’re experiencing bladder leakage or pelvic pain and don’t know where to go, it’s a good idea to take a look at the functions of the pelvic floor so you can gain some clarity on how it all ties together.
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that goes from pubic bone to tailbone (front to back) and from sits bone to sits bone (side to side). It may be surprising to see that there are A TON of these muscles, and they are organized into multiple layers. The pelvic floor in its entirety may be more complex than meets the eye! It is the floor of our pelvis and encompasses all the muscles, nerves, ligaments, and joints down there.
Image courtesy of www.myPFM.com
So what does our pelvic floor do for us?
Our pelvic floor has three openings through the uretha, vagina, and anus, so our peeing, pooping, and intimate functions are going to be affected by these muscles. Also - yes men have pelvic floors too! Men have two openings, the urethra and the anus.
Take a look at the following main functions of the pelvic floor:
Some of our pelvic floor muscles are called sphincter muscles because they wrap around the urethra and rectum and are responsible for opening and closing. This means when we let those muscles go, the pee and poop can flow out. When these muscles are engaged and held tight, no pee or poop gets out. We have the ability to control these sphincter muscles to gain better control over holding our pee and poop during the day.
The muscles that surround the vaginal opening have to be flexible and expand for penetration or gynecological exam. The pelvic floor muscles also contribute to sexual arousal and orgasm in both men and women.
The pelvic floor is the bottom of our core. It works to support the rest of our core and adds to the stability of your spine and pelvis.
The pelvic floor muscles have to be engaged properly and strong enough to hold our reproductive organs, providing support for the uterus (prostate in men), bladder, and bowels. The organs can perform better when they have proper support from the pelvic floor.
The good news is that we can change how these functions work by changing the muscles and working on the kinetic chain - your whole body!
And I know you are wondering - kegels are not always the answer! In fact, most of my patients who are on kegel programs master those early on in our rehab and are quickly moving onto more demanding exercise to keep their symptoms at bay.
These more demanding exercises might be learning how to squat properly with good pressure management so you aren't bearing down onto the pelvic floor or learning how to put down your baby into his/her crib with proper core and pelvic floor engagement to protect your low back.
These activities will look different for everyone.
When there is dysfunction in the pelvic floor, you may notice some of these signs:
Prolapse or pressure in the pelvis
Problems with orgasm
Burning in the vaginal area
Numbness or tingling in the vaginal/buttock area
When optimizing your pelvic health, it's necessary to look at all of these main functions, which really encompass your entire body!
A great physical therapy plan will identify which muscles, joints, nerves, and ligaments are affected and guide you through prescriptive exercises, stretches, and manual techniques so you can learn how to use your pelvic floor in the most optimal ways to improve your symptoms and to prevent them from coming back!
Contact us at 985-228-6961 to discuss your situation!