It's often that I find myself in conversation with girlfriends, talking about five different topics at once. It seems that we have to share info about everything... And then it comes up... the topic about how you peed your pants. Ahhh – the embarrassment! Are women settling for this being the new norm? Now's the time...it's time to change this common perception of the female body and demystify the female pelvic floor.
Although the pelvic floor is a crucial part of our amazing bodies, research shows that 66% of women don't know where to find their pelvic floor or what defines it. The pelvic floor desires to be known, and stimulated, and strong, and wants all the TLC you have to offer! In fact, the pelvic floor provides the foundation for your “core”. Let me introduce you to this integral 3-D system that strongly influences our “core”.
The pelvic floor is located at the base of our pelvis, wrapping in a 3-D pattern to facilitate support of the three openings (urethra, vagina, and anus). It is a system of integrated muscles that attach from the pubis, hips, and tailbone, designed to provide stability and transfer forces to the arms & legs through the pelvis. The “core” of your body can be thought of like a box – there's a top, bottom, and sides wrapping around. With the top part of the “core” as the respiratory diaphragm, the back “core” being made of back musculature and hips, and front “core” comprised of your abdominals, the pelvic floor has a strong role in supporting this team of “core muscles” from the base. As the bottom support structure, it provides upward force to the bladder, uterus, and bowels. Not only does the pelvic floor provide support to your organs, it controls bowel and bladder function, can intensify sexual performance, and is engaged with “bearing down” during childbirth. Because of a connective tissue webbing called fascia, each link in your body, including your pelvic floor, has a connection to another link.
So what's the big deal?
One in three women have some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction can include incontinence/leaking, pelvic pain, and diastasis rectis (abdominal splitting) but can also be an underlying cause of lower back pain, tailbone pain, or hip pain. When there is a weak link in the core system, this negatively influences the ability of the core to turn on automatically and results in loss of optimal core function. While very common, these conditions should not be considered normal and may indicate that your pelvic floor is in need of some TLC.
Do you desire to do what's best for your pelvic floor?
The best TLC for the pelvic floor can be given through simple breathing, movement, and improving posture. The pelvic floor is stimulated from above through respiration and below through 3-D loading of the hip and pelvis. Training the entire core in a 3-D way can provide optimal automatic stability of the pelvic floor neuromuscular system – essentially your whole “core”! Being proactive through seeking a 3-D core training program will help you optimize the function of your pelvic floor. Resources, such as a women's health physical therapist or pelvic floor-trained therapist, can help you integrate a comprehensive and functional pelvic floor strengthening program in to your daily core routine. Learning and loving your pelvic floor is a start to giving it the TLC it needs.
Local Resources and Therapists:
Lakeshore: i'move with locations in Spring Lake, Grand Haven, and Holland.
Grand Rapids: The Center for Physical Rehabilitation with four Grand Rapids-area locations.
Renee is a physical therapist at i'move in Spring Lake, MI. She has a 12-month-old son and is a former Over the Moon client. Read more about Renee here.