What is my Pelvic Floor?
The "pelvic floor" is a collective term for a group of muscles that both men and women have, which are located at the base of the pelvis. They are often described as resembling a 'sling', and have a few very important roles.
These muscles need to 'turn on' or contract during many activites, everything from heavy lifting all the way through to coughing, sneezing and laughing (and other such val salva maneouvres). They help to stabilise or support your pelvic and lower back during these activities, and prevent the loss of urine, wind or bowel motions during exertion.
Weak muscles in this area can create any of the above mentioned problems. To overcome a pelvic floor dysfunction, just like any other muscle in the body these muscles can be strengthened - despite their location in a personal area.
How do I strength my Pelvic Floor?
This is simply done by tightening the muscles of this pelvic sling - that is, the muscles around your urethra, vagina/penis and anus.
There are several cues that you can think about to help you get the muscles to contract if you can't consciously do that now. Two of the more effective cues are:
- Gently contract the muscle that stops you from urinating. Think about tightening the muscle that would stop you from urinating mid-flow.
- When sitting down and without moving your body, gently contract the muscles that lift your urethra, vagina/penis or anus from the chair.
You'll feel these passages squeeze shut, as the muscles pull upwards towards the inside of your abdomen. Try to hold these muscles on for a few seconds as you continue to breath.
Contracting and exercises these muscles can be done discretely and practiced anytime/anywhere. No one will ever notice that you're doing them. It shouldn't be too long before you notice a gain in strength, and once you notice you can easily get these muscles to contract, to make it more challenging you can try to hold them on while you practice another activity.
This could be getting up/down from a chair, lifting the groceries or getting something out of the dishwasher. By activating these muscles during other activites you'll gain a more functional strength, and drastically reduce your frequency of incontinence, back pain and other similar problems. By the stage your getting to this level, you should contact a health practitioner for more specific advice relevant to your particular situation.