The pelvic floor is getting a lot more attention than it used to, especially when talking about the prenatal and postpartum journey. What in the world is the pelvic floor and why should you care about the pelvic floor muscles?
The pelvic floor is a basket or sling of muscles that sit in your pelvis that support your organs and help with pressure regulation. They also help regulate bowel and bladder health and support sexual functions. Without healthy pelvic floor muscles that work in the proper order and function how they are meant to function, you may experience bowel and bladder dysfunction or have pain with intercourse or have difficulty with all three of these areas.
The pelvic floor musculature is so vital to every day function, yet it is often overlooked when trying to determine the cause of back and hip pain. These muscles are a part of your core muscles that support the entire body. You have your diaphragm at the top, the abdominal wall on the front, the muscles along the spine at the back, and the pelvic floor at the bottom. If any of these groups of muscles are not working in the correct pattern, this could result in pain or dysfunction.
You may have heard about kegels, the pelvic floor muscle exercise that can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The challenge lies in doing these exercises correctly. When checking the pelvic floor muscle strength and contractions, in our physical therapy practice, we find that many people are not doing this exercise correctly, have overactive pelvic floor muscles and don't need to be doing this exercise, or the Kegel is not the only exercise that is needed. This is why a Kegel may be ineffective for you.
The best way to know what you truly need, if you're having back pain, hip pain, pelvic pain, bladder or bowel leaking, or sexual pain or dysfunction is to seek out an expert, a pelvic health physical therapist can evaluate you and develop a plan that fits your individual needs.