The pelvic floor is a musculotendonous hammock at the base of the pelvis. This hammock is created by musculotendenous attachments to the front, back and sides of the base of the pelvis. These attachments support the organs in the pelvic cavity.
Weak pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) can occur from a variety of reasons, including, pregnancy, childbirth, aging, sedentary lifestyle or from being overweight and out of shape. If you have weak PFMs, then you may be experiencing incontinence, a decrease in performance of physical activities, more difficulty balancing and less agility.
PFMs play an important role in the coordinated triggering of almost all movements. Like any other muscle in the body, if not exercised PFMs become weaker due to lack of muscle tone. Weak PFMs will result in incontinence (eg. when we sneeze or cough), prolapsed organs, poor posture, back problems and imbalance.
When it comes to PFMs, I am talking about the muscles that can stop the flow of urine and bowel movements. These muscles are internal, therefore the abdominals, back and buttocks should be relaxed when activating/contracting PFMs.
- To find the muscles that control the urine flow — When you are passing urine, try to stop the flow mid-stream, then restart.
- To find the muscles that control the anal sphincter — Tighten the ring of muscles around the anus as if you are trying to control a bowel movement, then relax.
- Practice these movements several times until you are sure you are exercising the correct muscles. Try not squeeze the buttocks.
It is recommended to exhale when activating/contracting the PFMs, as this will help to maintain the Intra-Abdominal Pressure, which helps to increase stability around the spine. When you exercise, bring your awareness to contracting and relaxing these muscles.
PFMs can be activated while sitting, standing, or in any other position. The next time you perform core, abdominal, or balance exercise be sure to activate the PFMs as you exhale. This requires awareness and practice, so do not be discouraged, and do not squeeze your buttocks.