Friday, February 24, 2023

Guest Post : What is Pelvic Floor?

I am pleased to share this article about Pelvic Floor by Theresa Wilk Feeley, PT, DPT, PRPC, NCMP, RYT, Pelvic Health & Wellness Center Director at Atlantic Pelvic and and Wellness Center / Physical Therapy.  It compliments my post on Have You Considered Pelvic Floor Therapy


Theresa Wilk Feeley
 The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that span the base of the pelvis, with the hip girdle at either side,

the pubic bone in the front and the tailbone in the back. These muscles play a critical role in bowel,
bladder and sexual function. The deeper layer works to stabilize the hip girdle and also helps to support
the organs that sit in the pelvis (bladder, rectum, uterus). They work especially hard during pregnancy
when they need to support the growing uterus while also stabilizing the pelvis.
The deep layer contracts and relaxes rhythmically with your breathing. As you breath in, air fills the lungs and the guts descend creating a gentle stretch to the pelvic floor muscles. As you exhale, the muscles naturally contract to lift back up and help to push the air out. When these muscles don’t work with your breathing, you might have symptoms of stress incontinence with forced exhalation (sneezing, coughing, laughing). This rhythmic up and down motion also creates a sump pump effect for the gastrointestinal system to aide with digestion and lymphatic drainage.
There is also a superficial layer of muscles that work for sphincter control to close the urethral, vaginal and anal openings. Both this layer and the deeper layer need a balance of strength and flexibility. They need to contract to lift up for support, and to close the opening to hold things in (urine, gas, stool). They also need to relax to allow for your bowel and bladder to empty. In a female pelvis, the relaxation is also important to allow for tampon use, gynecological exams and intercourse. There is more awareness around weakness in the pelvic floor muscles in relation to incontinence but tightness is also extremely common. Short and tight muscles lead to bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction, as well as pain in the pubic bone, tailbone, hips and lower back.
Looking for your pelvic floor muscles? In sitting, use your hand to find your tailbone and then moving a little further down and towards one side. Next, contract your pelvic floor muscles by creating the motion of stopping the flow or urine or trying to hold in gas. You should feel a small movement under your fingers as these muscles activate. You can do the reverse motion by gentle pushing down like you would to have a bowel movement. A healthy pelvic floor should be able to do both motions!

There are many reasons why Kegels aren’t helping your pelvic pain or dysfunction.  And the biggest one is that you don’t need to be doing them.

But if you do have weakness in your pelvic floor that is causing dysfunction, doing Kegels correctly will strengthen these muscles.  Some of the biggest reasons they don’t work is that they are done incorrectly, not frequently or long enough or they are only performed lying down. If you have pelvic floor dysfunction that isn’t responding to Kegels - see a pelvic floor practitioner!!! They can assess your quality of contraction, dose repetitions in what positions or what movements- or discover that you don’t need to do them and get you the right treatment and exercise program!
Every Day is a Blessing! 

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