Restoring Your Balance, LLC
Pelvic Floor & Abdominal Muscles
Pelvic Floor & Abdominal Muscles
It is estimated that one in five Americans (of all ages) experience some type of pelvic dysfunction at some time during their life. Although, it is very common, dysfunctions of the pelvic floor are some of the most unidentified and untreated conditions.
My Mission is to educate more women and doctors about these types of problems so more women can find treatment for the things they had lost hope for and thought were “just normal."
On this page you will learn about the “Core of your core!.”
What are pelvic floor muscles?
These muscles are a big group of small muscles that all function together to do what most of us know as the “kegel” exercise. These muscles include the vaginal, rectal/anal sphincters, and urethral sphincters. The muscles have many functions called the “S” functions.
- S-Stabilize the pelvis during movement
- S-Sphincteric They help us close openings of the vagina, urethra, and rectum.
- S-Support The muscles give support to all of the pelvic contents, bladder, uterus, and bowels. This is very important for avoiding pelvic organ prolapse.
- S-Sex These muscles are responsible for our ability to appreciate sexual activity.
These muscles are responsible for a lot. With all those functions, these muscles can also have great DYSFUNCTION.
More Than Just Kegels
Many women have been told at some point to do kegel exercises.
Many of you have tried and it didn’t work. These exercises are not as easy as they seem. They do work and are important to do.
One study found that even after receiving specific verbal instruction (no hands on), nearly 50% of participants were still doing them wrong.
Why is it so hard to exercise these muscles? Specific evaluation and screening for dysfunction is a necessary first step to trying to do this exercise correctly. There are many ways for your body to compensate for your pelvic floor, which is what happens when weakness and other dysfunction is present. These compensations become habits for your body that you are unaware of and are difficult to recognize and correct on your own.
As you can imagine, many things affect proper function of these muscles:
- Child-bearing and child birth (even if you delivered via C-section)
- Abdominal, pelvic, and hip, and lumbar surgeries
- Trauma to the pelvis, abdomen, or low back (falling, car accidents, sexual trauma)
- Infections such as urinary, vaginal infections
- Sometimes for unknown reasons
Training from a women’s health physical therapist will aid in not only identifying dysfunction and incorrect methods to the pelvic floor muscles, but will help you skillfully master this exercise and restore control and function in these muscles.
Most everyone at some point in their life has tried a sit-up or crunch to strengthen their abs, “tone their middle,” or “increase their core strength.”
This also is not as easy as it seems. Our abdominal muscles are made up of four different muscles, each having important jobs. The rectus muscle runs up and down and forms the “six pack” look. They help us lift our torso up out of bed or out of a reclined position. They can also become separated down the midline during pregnancy, with abdominal weight gain, or straining with heavy lifting. This is called a rectus diastasis.
There are two different sets of oblique muscles, internal and external obliques that run diagonal across the tummy. These muscles give our middle support and help us stabilize our body during rotational movements.
The last, but certainly not least, is our transversus abdominus muscle. This muscle runs across the lower stomach and wraps around to the lumbar spine. This is the only abdominal muscle that has direct attachments to the lumbar spine and acts like a pelvic corset to stabilize the pelvis and low back during movement! It works closely with the pelvic floor muscles to give support to the pelvis and pelvic organs. So you can imagine that it is a very important muscle! Strengthening this muscle greatly improves, posture, pelvic function and health, balance, improved bladder and bowel function, and can flatten the lower stomach.
The fitness buzz in the last few years has been on strengthening our core. Making the central muscles of our body stronger so the rest of our body can move and work without injury. Keeping these muscles strong and healthy can also save you a lot of trouble with pelvic and abdominal dysfunction!