The pelvic floor is something that is simply just not talked about in some cultures, and especially not in regards to some of the functions it serves.
Your pelvic floor is comprised of muscles that act as a sling or hammock to support your pelvic organs. These muscles span from your pubic bone to your tailbone. They work to assist with the ‘5 S’s’:
1. Support - to pelvic organs including bladder/prostate, rectum, vagina, uterus etc.
2. Sphincteric – the ability to keep things in when we want them to stay in and to let them out when we want them out!
3. Sexual – achieving orgasm, erection, lubrication, etc.
4. Stability – assists to stabilize hips, low back, and pelvis during everyday function
5. Sump pump – can help with circulation of blood in and out of the pelvic and genital region
The pelvic floor plays a role in a lot, huh?! Its function is so important in so many things. It works closely with the diaphragm, deep abdominal muscles, and muscles of the spine to manage pressure within the abdomen. This is so important when doing things like jumping, lifting, running, coughing, sneezing, laughing. Your pelvic floor provides support during these demanding activities, maintaining sphincteric control, and stabilizing our center.
Since the pelvic floor muscles play such a large role in many things, if there is dysfunction in this area, it can lead to changes in all those things! With decreased support to the pelvic organs, one might develop a pelvic organ prolapse; poor sphincteric control could lead to incontinence with activity, or changes in urge or frequency to void; there may be changes in sexual function including difficulty with orgasm, pain, or erectile dysfunction for males; decreased stability may contribute to low back or hip pain with activity, difficulty with single leg balance or activities like lifting/pulling/pushing; and dysfunction in this region can reduce the effectiveness of contracting and relaxing which can influence blood flow to and from this area. Despite being involved in many functions and contributing to problems that can be very frustrating and debilitating, a lot of these can be helped through appropriate intervention! It’s important to understand that although a lot of these experiences are common, they don’t have to be a normal part of life!
Through pelvic floor physical therapy, a therapist can identify the most likely cause of whatever you may be experiencing. Sometimes this is weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, sometimes it’s tension or over-activity; other times it may have to do with the hips or low back, posture, or breathing. Whatever it may be, it’s important to narrow this down and create an accurate plan of attack!
If you are interested in learning more about the pelvic floor, the specific functions it serves and how these relate to everyday life, sport, exercise, and activities; as well as the role of a pelvic floor physical therapist, drop in to one of our upcoming workshops!
Looking for more specific guidance or one-on-one care? Click the "Talk With A PT" button and I’ll reach out within 24 hours.
Dr. Elle Carlson