I had the opportunity to learn about the pelvic floor and how important it is three years ago through three months of Pilate training. I did not realize how important that muscle group is until I studied it and went through the Pilate training which was most enjoyable by the way. I thought I would share what I know about the pelvic floor with the hopes I can help someone in some way. It was noted during my Pilate training I had a strong pelvic floor and I credit that to my weightlifting diligence because believe me I was not intentionally training the pelvic floor prior to the Pilate training.
We all know how important consistent exercise is. Current research has proven exercise improves mood and decreases anxiety and feelings of depression. Exercise has a good chance of reducing stress. Its is also important to note that while your nutrition efforts is on the forefront of weight loss, exercise may help us to stay motivated with our nutrition as they go hand in hand. Having a strong core will help us keep us out of pain and issues with lower back.
I love how exercise boosts our energy levels and reduces the feelings of fatigue. Exercise just has so many benefits to offer in regards to health and lifestyle and that's really the bottom line.
Some muscle groups are often over looked. The pelvic floor is one of those groups. The problem with over looking the pelvic floor is as we age and through lack of use, they become weak. Unfortunately that weakening of the pelvic floor invites urinary continence,poor core strength and unfavorable sexual health. I knew about women and continence but never knew that a weak pelvic floor effects the core and sexual health. It is important maintaining a strong pelvic floor and its easy to accomplish and reaps several benefits.
The pelvic floor muscles are located at the base of the pelvis. These muscles add a layer of protection or support to the bowel, bladder, pelvic organs and the uterus. This muscle group is much like a trampoline stretching from the tailbone and the pubic bone and from side to side between the ischial tuberosities or also called the sit bones. Normally these muscles are thick and firm which allows them to support the organs and form one section of the core muscle group. In the center is space for the anus, urethra, and vagina to pass through. The only difference with the pelvic floor in men verses women is the sexual organs. The pelvic floor muscles are wrapped around the urethra and anus to help keep them shut along with the sphincters. We can not see these pelvic floor muscles but we can control them and exercise them to strengthen them to avoid the perils mentioned above. When we contract the pelvic floor, it prevents the passage of stool and urine.
What are the causing factors besides age that weakens the pelvic floor? Many believe childbirth causes the weakening. Some other factors are obesity, chronic coughing, heavy lifting, and constipation. These muscles can also be damaged during pregnancy and hormonal changes during menopause. Our intraabdominal pressure may also be effected by weakened pelvic floor muscles which leads to lower back pain-ugh! Prolapses of the uterus and bladder also occur from weak pelvic floor muscles. As mentioned earlier, incontinence in women and men and sexual dysfunction in men.
Now that we have a little bit of information on the pelvic floor, let us look at the ways of strengthening the pelvic floor. I think it might be important to just sit and relax the buttocks, legs and stomach fully relaxed. Imagine that feel of urinating and then contract the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine. Now you have identified that pelvic floor muscle group through feel. It is important you don't practice stopping a live urine flow especially if your bladder is full. By doing so, you could actually weaken the muscles. Just sit on a chair with your feet on the floor and contract the muscles of your buttocks that you would use to keep from passing gas. Concentrate on keeping the inner thigh muscles and abdomen relaxed. If you are relaxed and doing it correctly, your body will not shift. You will feel the muscles of the pelvic floor lift. If you feel any pain, stop and contact your doctor. But once you have identified this muscle group you may want to consider these exercises which will benefit both male and females alike and avoid the worst. Now that we understand and can feel the pelvic floor we can consider Kegels, squats, bridge, rapid squeeze and releases. These exercises if done on a regular basis will make our pelvic floors stronger. You may already be doing some of these things like I am and already have a strong and healthy pelvic floor. Keep it going and share the knowledge with others. One person may listen to you and start working on it too.
I hope this article has shed some light on one og the most often over looked group of muscles, the pelvic floor. I find it interesting that I did not even realize men have a pelvic floor and I have my degree in Physical Education! Perhaps I had forgotten. Well! June is here and its absolutely a new season for me and welcomed here in the deep south. I hope to publish some new summer recipes as I will be experimenting with the veggies I planted in my garden and our new Traeger smoker! Yum.
Love and Peace,