The Pelvic Floor is essential for Women's Health and Fitness.
If you're a woman reading this, at some point in your life you would have been told that you either need to strengthen or learn to connect your pelvic floor. You likely nodded your head sagely, as if you understood what this meant.
But inside you were going "what the heck is a pelvic floor and how do I connect it??".
You're not alone. In pilates, instructors will often instruct you to cue your pelvic floor. Then after you've had a baby, your Gynae will tell you that you have to do PF exercises.
You may hear cues in your pilates class such as :
"Zip up your pants".
"Pick up a marble"
"squeeze your vagina"
And some of you may "get it", but a lot of you are just thinking what the hell is this but you're just too embarrassed to put your hand up and say :
"Hey Pilates instructor. I know I've been coming to see you for a few years now. But I STILL don't get how to do this pelvic floor thing!".
A well functioning pelvic floor helps with incontinence
Many women have an issue with urine leakage (incontinence) when they cough, sneeze or laugh. I know - I've had it too after my two babies were born. It's embarrassing, so we don't talk about it. But in a recent workshop I conducted in my studio, the results were pretty amazing.
73% experienced some incontinence.
The pelvic floor muscles circle around the vagina, the urethra and the anus. So if the muscles are not functioning well, they don't prevent the tightening or closure of the anus or urethra when required.
That's another reason why "sharting" occurs. Forgive me for this crude word, but we are all adults here and these things DO happen. (I just don't know if there is a medical term for this!).
It's when you pass wind, but what comes through is also feces. Oh yes. It does happen.
A well functioning pelvic floor helps prevent prolapse of the uterus
When a woman's uterus prolapses, this basically means it's making it's way out of your vagina. There are 4 stages of this, and the 4th is the most severe.
Think about the anatomy. The pelvic floor sits at the base of your uterus. When you carry babies, there's pressure on the floor. And after you give birth, the pelvic floor muscles will need to 'bounce back' into shape. If they don't, imagine an overstretched rubber band.
To be clear there are a lot of other factors that affect a prolapse. But we are only talking about the pelvic floor here.
Where is the pelvic floor?
It sits at the base of your organs. And there are two main layers of the PF. The urogenital triangle and the pelvic diaphgragm. They both have to work together. But how do you actually connect the muscle?
For the simplest explanation, watch the video above. It explains how you can use the imagery of your bones to cause the muscles to contract. So instead of just "stopping your pee", you're doing more of a 360º connection. Front, sides and back.
And you don't want to super clench these muscles. A way of thinking about this is, imagine you're lifting a bag of flour. That's it. You aren't using the same force as say, lifting a 20kg suitcase off the conveyor belt.
So with the pelvic floor, you don't want to be scrunching up your face to squeeze, but think "gently connect / squeeze".
How to cue the pelvic floor to connect
Ready? Have a seat. Somewhere quiet so you won't be disturbed.
Visualise where your sit bones (see video) , tailbone, and pubic bone are. Inhale 'into' your pelvic floor. Exhale. Inhale again into your pelvic floor. Exhale, and at the end of the exhalation, gently bring the sit bones together. (repeat this 5 times)
Next - inhale into your tailbone and pubic bone. Exhale. Repeat, inhale int your tailbone and pubic bone. Exhale, and at the end of the exhalation, gently bring the pubic bone and tail bone together. Repeat 5 times.
Putting it together : Inhale into your sit bones, pubic bone and tail bones. Exhale and at the end of the exhalation gently bring the four bones together. Repeat 5 times.
And that, is the simplest way to connect your pelvic floor. Honestly I'd recommend watching the video. We have Tutorial #2 coming up soon, and this will give you the bigger picture.
So - did it work? It won't for a while, it will take you lots of practice to really feel it. But keep going. And every time you want to pick something heavy, connect your PF.
Make it a habit and you should be in a pretty darn good position for a health, well functioning pelvic floor.
What to do next?
If you need help with your pelvic floor or your goal is to get stronger and age well, then get in touch with us by clicking "request more information" at the top of this page. One of our amazing coaches will then arrange a call with you to see if we can help you to commit to a better you!