Venturing into the unknown...

Pelvic. Floor. Muscles. 

We all have them (men: you too).

And unfortunately, as they are out of sight they are also out of mind for most.

Only when we suffer (a lot) do they get any attention or perhaps most do not realise that pelvic floor dysfunction could be a source of their problems. Often too much time has been spent suffering rather than working towards a solution (which is available in most cases) with a Physiotherapist specialising in Women’s Health.

Pelvic floor muscles are best described as a sling or hammock. They run from the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone (coccyx) at the back.

 Image: Continence Foundation of Australia.

Image: Continence Foundation of Australia.

Pelvic floor muscles have a hugely import role to play; support pelvic organs (bowel, bladder and uterus), keep pee and poo off the floor and sexual function.

Consequences of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction include: prolapse, loss of control of bowel or/and bladder function and dyspareunia (pain on intercourse).

Factors that may influence pelvic floor muscle function include:

  •      ongoing constipation

  •      heavy lifting- gym or occupation related

  •      chronic cough or sneezing

  •      ageing

  •      over exercising the muscles or not history of back pain

  •      being overweight

  •      previous injury

  • pregnancy and having babies

Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles or performing Kegel’s may not always be the answer.  Pelvic floor muscles may be tight and unable to relax OR weak and not strong enough to support. 

The great thing is, although hidden; pelvic floor muscles can be consciously controlled and therefore trained!

As a Physiotherapist specialising in Women’s Health, I use both internal and external examination methods to determine if your muscles are tight, weak or just fine before prescribing a pelvic floor muscle training program. This is essential as it may be ineffective (at best) or harmful (at worst) if you are performing your pelvic floor exercises incorrectly.

Unfortunately, research tells us that only half of the people, when assessed, perform their exercises correctly with only verbal instruction.

So how to perform a pelvic floor contraction?

A correct pelvic floor contraction should feel like a gentle squeeze and lift from your back passage to the front passage. 

I usually cue my patients like this:

  • Bring your focus to your anus and imagine that you need to stop passing wind. And relax.

  • Now bring your focus to your front passage and imagine that you need to stop the flow of urine. And relax.

  • Now do both at the same time. And relax.

  • Now do both without holding your breath! And ….(relax).

  • Ensure you are not compensating by tilting your pelvis or squeezing your buttocks and inner thigh muscles.

Still don’t get it?

Men- testicles to spectacles OR pull the turtle head in

Women- imagine your pelvic floor is a jellyfish- opening and closing, or a booking opening and closing.

If you are still in doubt, book an appointment with our Physiotherapist specialising in Women’s Health to have your pelvic floor assessed and technique confirmed. Email info@ifcpt.com or call 8721 9972 to book.