The pelvic floor muscles (PFM’s) span from the pubic bone in front to the tailbone (coccyx) and side pelvic walls. They support the bladder, uterus and bowel by tightening muscles and sphincters around the organs when lifting, exercising or coughing. Sitting and standing tall keeps a low level of automatic activity in the PFM’s. On the other hand, relaxing the muscles is important for easy bladder and bowel emptying.

Healthy PFM’s are needed to

  • Prevent bladder and bowel leaks
  • Support the growing uterus
  • Prevent pelvic organ descent (prolapse)
  • Work with core muscles to support the spine
  • Enhance sexual sensation 

Pelvic floor problems can be due to

  • Regular straining to empty the bowel
  • Constant coughing
  • Weight of baby and fluids during pregnancy
  • Muscle damage and interventions used during birth
  • Larger waist measurement
  • Work involving regular heavy lifting
  • Excessive abdominal workouts or over challenging exercise
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Hysterectomy and some pelvic surgery
  • Less oestrogen after menopause
  • Infection and pain

Pelvic Floor Muscle problems

The PFM’s cause problems when they are 

  • Weak and not strong enough to lift when you run or sneeze
  • Tight and cannot relax  
  • Over powered by excessive tightness in trunk and waist muscles

How is the Pelvic Floor Connected to the Core? 

The inner core of postural muscles consists of the pelvic floor, deep
abdominal (transversus abdominis), deep spinal muscles (multifidus) and
the diaphragm. Normally the inner CORE muscles all work together.
When the PFMs lift from underneath the body, the transversus abdominis
tensions around the abdomen to the lower spine and the spinal multifidus
and diaphragm above are involved to contain the rise of pressure inside
the abdomen.  
Sometimes injury, weakness, heavy lifting or doing excessive abdominal
workouts, can strain the PFMs in the base of the pelvis. When the PFMs
are too tight (the same as a tight shoulder muscle), they become weak and
also unable to work normally. Before trying to strengthen the PFMs it’s
important to identify the slow, subtle action of correctly tightening and
lifting without stronger muscles taking over.

Click here to discover your PFM action

If you’re still unsure about working your PFMs make an appointment to
see a women’s health physiotherapist.

2 Tips To Flatten Your Stomach

Lengthen and grow tall through the crown of your head to switch on the
automatic action of your pelvic floor and core abdominal muscles and
watch how your tummy automatically flattens.
Lift up the PFMs to switch on the deep abdominal (which flattens the
tummy) instead of sucking in the muscles at the waist.