What combination of muscles is the most active during all activities of daily living, yet tends to be the most neglected or misunderstood? The CORE! Your core is made up of 4 major muscles/muscle groups: possibly the most forgotten of which is the group of muscles that make up the Pelvic Floor.
The pelvic floor serves 5 purposes. It stabilizes the lower portion of the core – assisting with stabilization of the LE and the spine. It supports the organs, keeping them from falling with gravity. It helps with drainage of blood/lymph from the legs. It provides control of bowels and bladder – allowing you to either hold or empty. And it is vitally important in sexual appreciation – either allowing or improving the sexual experience.
So, what happens if the pelvic floor isn’t functioning correctly? Keeping in the order used above – the pelvic floor functions to stabilize the body/spine. Without it, your body will have to depend on other structures to assist in stabilization. If you ask a muscle that typically would only fire with quick motions to begin firing for a majority of the day…it can lead to pain or dysfunction of that muscle group. This is similar to asking a sprinter to participate in a marathon – without the proper training, that sprinter may not be able to adequately adapt. The pelvic floor supports the organs – instead of the strong hammock that should be the pelvic floor muscles, there’s an inside out tent. This can lead to organ prolapse. The muscles making up the pelvic floor assist in helping move out fluid from the legs back to the heart. Without this function, there could be fluid build-up or swelling in the legs. The pelvic floor assists in maintaining bowel and bladder function. Without the proper control of the bladder, you may feel you need to urinate more frequently – or you may notice that you have a hard time making it to the restroom on time. You could feel that you’re not emptying your bladder all the way or you leak with sneezing, coughing, jumping, squatting, or running. Or it’s possible that you notice you’ve had some urine leakage you weren’t aware of. Very similar issues occur without proper bowel control – including constipation, difficulty with bowel movements, or having a bowel movement without realizing it. The final function of the pelvic floor is sexual appreciation. It is the ability to have sex or engage in any sexual activity. It is not normal for a woman to have pain with sex, nor is it something any female should have to endure. Also, has been proven in the research that individuals who have a strong pelvic floor have better sex overall.
So, what if any of these (not exhaustive examples) of dysfunction of the pelvic floor applies to you? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can help. It can assist in relaxing the pelvic floor, decreasing pelvic pain, reducing an organ prolapse by at least 1 grade, decrease or eliminate urine leakage, and improve overall quality of life. If you’re reading this blog thinking about yourself – reach out! I’m happy to answer any questions or assist in finding a Pelvic Floor therapist in your state!
-Dr. Tristan Faile