Pelvic Floor and Core

Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the base of the pelvis, spanning from pubic bone to tailbone and from sit bone to sit bone.

Functions of the pelvic floor:

  • Bladder and bowel control
  • Core stabilization
  • Supports the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum)
  • Aids in maintaining erection and achieving orgasm

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Pelvic floor movement occurs both voluntarily and reflexively. Another word for a conscious contraction of the pelvic floor is a “Kegel". Adequate function of the pelvic floor means that it can contract correctly, relax fully, be active at the appropriate times, and relaxed at the appropriate times.

Cues for a pelvic floor contraction:

  • Imagine sucking up a smoothie with your vagina or anus
  • Squeeze and lift the pelvic floor like you are trying to stop the flow of urine or hold back gas
  • Bring your sit bones together
  • Imagine picking up a marble with your vagina or anus

Cues for pelvic floor relaxation:

  • Widen your sit bones
  • Gently bulge your pelvic floor
  • Imagine setting a marble down
  • Imagine you are starting to urinate or gently passing gas

The Core and Pressure System

The deep core system includes the diaphragm, transversus abdominus, pelvic floor, and multifidi muscles. These muscles function together to manage intra-abdominal pressure. This system is dynamic, and factors like how we breathe, what position we are in, and conscious or reflexive muscular contraction affect how it functions.

The diaphragm is the driver of this system. When we inhale, the diaphragm descends to allow the lungs to fill with air. The transversus abdominus and the pelvic floor respond by gently lengthening. When we exhale, the diaphragm ascends and the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor recoil.

Pelvic Floor Muscles

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The following could be signs of a problem with the pelvic floor muscles, pressure management strategies, or a combination of both:

  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Increased urinary urgency
  • Difficulty controlling gas
  • Difficulty achieving orgasms
  • Painful penetration-intercourse, tampons, pelvic exams
  • Hesitancy with urination or defecation
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Incomplete emptying
  • Feeling of heaviness or vaginal bulge
  • Tailbone, low back, pelvic pain
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