Pelvic Floor? What's That?
Take Home Messages & Nuggets: - The definition of the pelvic floor - What does it do? - Why is it important?
Let's dive right in. The pelvic floor consists of a series of muscles that sit at the base of your abdomen and connect all the way towards the bone you feel when you sit down for too long - the "sits" bone for short. The pelvic floor helps to support, stabilize and secure your pelvic organs and has a main connection to your "core" as well as maintaining sexual function. Now the core is a huge buzz word, especially in the fitness world. But do we even truly understand what the core is? Don't worry, I'm getting there but let's first note some important knowledge regarding the pelvic floor:
Who has a pelvic floor?
What is it?
Sheet of muscles known for supporting & stabilizing our pelvic organs along with helping to aide our sexual function. The pelvic floor will support both female and male organs - biological gender will determine which organs were developed at birth.
Where is it? See pics below for a reference.
The middle portion of our pelvis is where the pelvic floor begins. It then wraps all the way towards the back of your body towards your sits bone. If you take a look at the pictures below, the area with the red color are the pelvic floor muscles. Most will compare the pelvic floor to a "sling" or a “hammock” based on the shape of the pictures which is totally valid since it's helping to support your organs, but I like to think of it as a BOWL filled with water. I'll explain in the "Why" section.
Why do we need to know about this?
Think about your day to day. We pee, we poop, we have sex, we squat ... so why wouldn't we want to help the muscles that aide us in doing those things?
Here are some important functions I think most of us can relate to:
- Holding in urine, gas or poop when we don't have a toilet next to us
- Holding in urine when we cough, laugh, sneeze or jump
(I totally let some go when I laugh too hard)
- Supporting & stabilizing pelvic organs
- Increasing sexual arousal or achieving an orgasm (PREACH)
- Decreasing back, hip or lower extremity pain
- Maintaining proper "core" strength
Your core consists of your abdominal muscles, your back muscles and my personal definition includes the pelvic floor as well. Simply put, the abdominals make the "front", your back muscles are the "back" and then your pelvic floor is the "seat" of your core.
Remember that BOWL analogy I mentioned: Picture it. Your pelvic floor is a bowl sitting in the middle of your body and it's filled to the brim with water (which would consist of your pelvic organs and tissue lining). If one thing is off and the bowl gets tilted, pushed or prodded - the water starts to fall out right? This is what happens when one of your pelvic floor muscles, ligaments or organs has a dysfunction (this can include being stretched, being too tight, lack of strength, improper positioning or overactivity, etc). So if those muscles for some reason aren't in proper alignment OR if that bowl tips and "water" gets into other areas of the body: your pelvic floor or the bowl you once carried at it's full potential has now lost the water or function it needed to stay stable in the first place. And the chain reaction continues.
When is it important to start strengthening?
Now that you know the functions of the pelvic floor, can you see how important it would be to start strengthening pretty much at any point in your life? There is never a definite answer on when you should start something and I am a believer in starting when you can. For those of you who may be thinking, oh no... should I have been doing this sooner? Don't worry, because it’s never too late to start!
Realize how these little muscles play a huge role now? Stay tuned for future posts.
Signing off until the next one. With love always.