If you know about pelvic floor muscles, there’s a strong chance that incontinence is the first thing that comes to mind, which may or may not be related to giving birth. The truth is, while the muscles are most commonly associated with these issues—and strengthening them can lead to significant improvements—it’s important for everyone to work on pelvic floor muscles regardless of your gender or condition.
Most people think of the body’s core as the abdominal muscles, and some tend to include the muscles of the lower back as well. In actuality, the real core is your pelvic floor, which is a collection of muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis that wrap around the underside of the bladder and rectum.
As your true core, the state of your pelvic floor will affect the rest of the body. Good pelvic stability will have a positive effect on spinal alignment, knee stability, hip function and many other areas of the body, while poor stability can throw the whole system out of whack. Ensuring your pelvis is properly stable is therefore the first stage in maintaining optimal strength and support for the rest of your body.
Good core stability will also protect your spine and pelvic organs from pressure and repetitive stress, and is especially important for anyone who has regular episodes of back pain. A healthy pelvic floor is one that is strong, flexible and coordinated, and to accomplish this, the muscles must be targeted with specific exercises that will add strength and flexibility, and address any incontinence issues, if you have them.
That’s where Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City comes in. If you’re interested in improving your pelvic floor, we recommend the following:
- The easiest way to engage your pelvic floor is to pretend you have to urinate, and then prevent yourself from doing so; the muscles you use are those of your pelvic floor, and by engaging that reflex, you’ll be targeting them
- Once you have a grasp of controlling those muscles, try this: with an empty bladder, tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold it for 10 seconds, then relax for a count of 10, and repeat for 10 repetitions, 3-5 times a day
- The exercise is easiest to perform while sitting or lying down
- Be sure to relax your abs, buttocks and thighs while performing these, and you shouldn’t feel any discomfort in the abs or back during the exercise
- Increase the length of time you hold it for as your muscles begin to get stronger
- Yoga and Pilates, as well as a number of other exercises such as leg squats, lunges and step ups, will also help target pelvic floor muscles
At Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City, we can give you additional guidance on how to perform exercises that will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, and we encourage everyone to consider addressing them. Call us at 212-317-8303 for more information on the pelvic floor or to schedule an appointment.