Did you know that the pelvic floor muscles are part of the so called “core stability muscles”? Do you activate your pelvic floor when activating your deep abdominal muscles? Did you know that if you have urinary incontinence you are more likely to suffer from lower back pain?
It is well known that pregnancy and vaginal childbirth put significant stress on our pelvic floor muscles but have you ever considered how your habits or your exercise programme can affect the performance of your pelvic floor muscles? The pelvic floor has many important functions. It acts as a dynamic platform at the base of the human pelvis – it’s like a trampoline consisting of several layers;it supports your pelvic organs; it has to be able to sustain any increases of pressure within your abdominal cavity – when coughing, laughing, lifting, etc; its superficial muscles increase sexual satisfaction; it assists in pelvic-spinal stability; it helps rotate the baby’s head before delivery; it reinforces urethral closure during increases of intra-abdominal pressure; it has an inhibitory effect on the bladder activity and it contributes to faecal continence. As a physiotherapist specialising in woman’s health I see many women coming to Back In Action UK searching for advice on how to get rid of or avoid urinary incontinence and how to safely exercise during pregnancy or following childbirth. But those women are not the only ones at risk of having poor pelvic floor muscle control. As women we sometimes acquire certain bad habits that only increase the weakness of those muscles – we might push to completely empty our bladder when urinating, we might have the habit of going to the toilet more than we really need to “just in case”, we might be running or doing other impact workouts without thinking about the repetitive strain caused to our pelvic floor muscles – that trampoline that is supportive but at the same time reactive. Whether it’s induced by pregnancy or childbirth, influenced by bad habits or caused by poor core muscle control the good news is that there are different exercises to revert this process.