The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor's role in your core and more....
The pelvic floor muscles run from your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis to your tailbone at the base of your spine and extends out to your sitting bones either side. Picture it like a hammock supporting your pelvic organs – bladder, uterus (in females) and bowel. Therefore, you can imagine that there is an underlying level of activity in these muscles throughout the day until you lie down and the weight of our organs and gravity is no longer on this area
These muscles also work closely with our deepest abdominal muscle (transverse abdominus), small muscles supporting spinal segments (multifidus) and our diaphragm. This group of muscles form our ‘deep core’ which provides support to our spine and pelvis. When working effectively the pelvic floor also contributes to:
- Maintaining continence of our bladder and bowel
- Sexual function
- Relaxing to allow us to empty our bladder and bowel
- Relaxing to allow women to birth a baby during labour
Unfortunately there are times when the pelvic floor isn’t working optimally. In some people these muscles weaken due to a number of possible reasons including excessive weight gain, straining to empty bowels or trauma during pregnancy or childbirth. This can lead to symptoms such as incontinence, back and pelvic pain or pelvic organ prolapse. In some people we see that these muscles are actually holding too much tension, such as when our shoulders and neck tense up during times of stress. In this scenario, pelvic floor muscle strengthening could potentially worsen symptoms such as pelvic pain, poor emptying of bladder or bowels or sexual dysfunction. Therefore, it is important that you are able to contract and relax your pelvic floor well. If you’d like to know more about whether your pelvic floor function could be contributing to your back pain, or bladder/bowel symptoms we are here to help!
See below for a short video about the pelvic floor from the Continence Foundation of Australia.