5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Using Your Pelvic Floor

By Kristy Ahale

“Now, I want you to contract your pelvic floor and engage your core.”  Ever been instructed to do this?  

It’s a phrase I hear a lot – in workout videos on you tube, in classes, even in reading material designed to help women with pelvic floor issues.  

My question has always been, how many women are well versed enough in their anatomy to know exactly how to do this, with that brief instructional sentence? 

We’ve all heard the Kegel theory right?  Do dozens of them, every day – at every traffic light – forever.   

Given that over two thirds of women suffer from pelvic organ prolapse or leaking, and over 80% of women experience intermittent back pain, it may be time to ask some questions about this approach.   

As someone who worked in spinal and joint rehab for a decade before I moved into women’s health, I had always questioned the validity of squeezing one set of muscles for any longer than a couple of weeks when I first started treating the pelvic floor.  

We’ve all heard the Kegel theory right?  Do dozens of them, every day – at every traffic light – forever.   

I mean we don’t fix a knee injury by squeezing that quad muscle forever right? Once the injured muscles are working again, we connect them into the rest of the body, and, most importantly, into more complex movements.        

It’s a little tongue in cheek, but I’m yet to meet a woman who’s leaking is triggered by driving. 

The pelvic floor is a complex system of muscles that links to a whole other bunch of muscles – usually referred to as our core.    

With the sea of confusing information out there (I was bewildered when I first had my baby and I work in this area!), I thought I’d share 5 things that I think will help the most with recovering any pelvic floor or core issue: 

1. The pelvic floor muscles work in a loop, and as part of a complete system  

The pelvic floor supports the internal organs (think bladder and uterus) if it’s working with the big transverse abdominis muscle, the small stabilisers in the back called the multifidus muscles, and the diaphragm. Together, they create a pressure mechanism that lifts everything upwards and inwards – the aim of nearly every woman I see.  

2. They are postural muscles, rather than strength muscles    

The pelvic floor is designed to support us lightly when we are lying, sitting and standing, and ramp up in intensity during movement, and mostly they are meant to do this automatically. Any pelvic floor training would ideally be leading towards this as an outcome.

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