6 Things to Know About Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
When you decide to start strength training, you’re usually hoping to develop rock hard abs, toned arms or firm glutes.
You don’t tend to think about the strength of your pelvic floor until you become aware that it’s weak.
Maybe you hurt your pelvis in a car accident or perhaps you’ve had pelvic surgery. Perhaps pregnancy and childbirth did it. Or maybe it’s longer-term issues like chronic constipation or obesity.
Whatever the cause, if your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find it difficult to control your bladder or bowel. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help you learn how to control your pelvic floor.
Here are 6 things you need to know about pelvic floor physiotherapy:
1. Your pelvic floor is part of your core
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs, namely your bladder, bowel and (for women) uterus and vagina. Your pelvic floor muscles play a big part in your body’s waste disposal system and in your reproductive system.
Odd as it may seem, your pelvic floor is actually part of your core muscle group. That starts at your diaphragm, takes in your abs and lower back muscles, then ends with your pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor muscles need to work in tandem with your other core muscles. When you breathe in, your lungs push the diaphragm down toward your pelvis. Your pelvic floor stretches to accommodate that change. When you breathe out, your pelvic floor gently contracts as your diaphragm rises.
That coordination isn’t just necessary when you breathe. It’s also needed when you cough or lift something heavy. If your pelvic floor isn’t strong enough to do its bit, you may find that you leak urine when you cough.
2. Both men and women need a strong pelvic floor
We tend to hear most about pelvic floor issues in women who’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth. Indeed, it’s thought that 1 in 3 women who’ve ever had a baby wet themselves sometimes.
But men have a pelvic floor too. In men, pelvic floor dysfunction may exist alongside urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction or prostatitis (an inflammation of the prostate).
In women, pelvic floor dysfunction may cause pain during sex, cystitis or incontinence.
3. Physiotherapy can help strengthen a weak pelvic floor
If you pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Peeing when you cough, sneeze, laugh or run
- Not getting to the toilet in time
- Tampons falling out
- Passing wind when you bend over
- A sense of heaviness or reduced sensation in your vagina.
4. Physiotherapy can help relax a right pelvic core
Most people experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction have weak pelvic floor muscles but there’s another group whose pelvic floor is too tight.
A hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor can happen if you:
- Have a tight core
- Tend to hold on when you need the loo, maybe because you’re in the middle of a shift and can’t leave or because you don’t like public toilets so wait until you get home
- Are often tense due to stress or anxiety.
If your pelvic floor is too tight, you may be dealing with constipation, painful sex, pelvic pain and a sense of urgency when you need the loo.
5. Lifestyle influences your pelvic core
Your weight and your diet both influence your pelvic core.
A healthy diet that’s high in fruit, vegetables, fibre and water tends to lead to soft stools, helping prevent constipation. That means you don’t have to strain your pelvic floor muscles to do a poo.
Your weight matters too. If you’re overweight, your pelvic floor is constantly supporting a heavier load and there’s extra pressure inside your abdomen too, which may weaken your pelvic floor.
6. There’s more to it than Kegels
Pelvic floor physiotherapy will often include kegel exercises, where you repeatedly tighten, hold, then relax your pelvic floor muscles. Kegel training devices can also be used.
But there are many other techniques we use too, such as:
- Reducing time spent sitting
- Adding other stretches or lower body exercises into your routine.
Why? Because a strong pelvic floor enables you to live the life you want without enduring pain during sex, worrying about soiling yourself if you’re out for a run, or wetting yourself if you’re doubled over laughing about something hilarious with your friends.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
Our physiotherapists are skilled at understanding how your body works. We understand how your pelvic floor muscles need to coordinate with your core muscles to support your pelvic organs.
If your pelvic floor is too weak, we’ll help you train and strengthen your muscles. If your pelvic floor is too tight, we’ll teach you how to relax those muscles.
Please make an appointment with one of our physios today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.