Angela Rake, Pilates teacher and co-founder of Zing Wellness, shares her top 7 pelvic floor facts.
So, since the core and pelvic floor is one of my favourite topics that I spend hours talking to my clients about, I thought I would write a blog specifically sharing my top 7 pelvic floor facts. If this sparks your interest I have specifically created a Core Care & Pelvic Floor Repair course which helps you put all of this into practice. It is accessible in a 6 week group class format, 1-2-1 format and online course format, something for absolutely everyone.
First Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
The pelvic floor is not just one muscle. It is a huge sling of muscles that sit at the bottom of your pelvic basin and attach to your pelvis.
It has lots of muscle attachments and fascial attachments. It includes fast and slow twitch muscles. The muscle fibres move in lots of different directions.
It isn’t just the superficial area around your vulva, vaginal opening and rectum. It also isn’t just your rectal and vaginal sphincter muscles.
This means that just squeezing your vagina or anus or drawing your front passage towards your back passage is not really engaging your pelvic floor optimally.
Second Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
Your pelvic floor is a hugely important group of muscles.
It supports our pelvic organs (rectum, bladder, urethra & cervix).
It supports faecal and urinary functions so pooing and weeing, it plays an integral role in sexual arousal and orgasm and plays a key role in childbirth.
It also plays a key role in managing intra-abdominal pressure.
If you think about your core as a cylinder the pelvic floor is the base of your core. The diaphragm is the top of your core. Your abdominals are round the front and back extensors at the back. The whole core is driven by your breath. Urinary incontinence, prolapse, diastasis recti are mainly symptoms of mismanagement of intra-abdominal pressure.
Third Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
Your posture and pelvic positioning has a key impact on your pelvic floor engagement.
If you tuck your bottom under you often can only engage with the back of your pelvic floor and an over arched lower back means engagement only around the front of the pelvc floor so actually just thinking and working on your posture will help you get a more functional core. Win, win, right?
Fourth Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
Childbirth isn’t the only thing that can weaken the pelvic floor.
High impact and combative sports, weight lifting, conditions such as an overactive piriformis, obesity, persistent coughs, the drop in oestrogen during menopause and neurological conditions that affect cognitive function can weaken the pelvic floor.
Fifth Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
The pelvic floor muscles are not an isolated muscle group.
They have a close relationship and should co-contract with your deepest abdominal muscles (the transverse abdominal muscles) and your inner thigh muscles (the adductors). They also have a close working relationship with your bottom muscles (glutes), think of them as best friends.
The pelvic floor also loves full body movement.
This is why rehabilitating the pelvic floor requires a holistic approach looking at breath function, whole body movement in lots of different directions, loading it up and replicating everyday life not just squeezing the muscles whilst sitting at traffic lights.
Becky Aston, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist says: “An increasing amount of women in clinic have hypertonic pelvic floor muscles and need to learn how to let go and work on the relaxation as much as the contracting. Because women have a symptom that is often related to a weak pelvic floor muscle such as stress urinary incontinence, they have been told or presume they need to strengthen the muscles, but this can often make symptoms worse”
Seventh Powerful Pelvic Floor Fact
And just because 7 is a good number, here’s one more that might really incentivise you.
Did I mention that gaining a better connection with your pelvic floor can help assist with more powerful orgasms?
Really, I promise it is true, even the NHS say so!