12 May All roads lead to the pelvic floor
Most of us have heard about our pelvic floor but how many of us actually know what it is? Don’t worry, I didn’t have a clue either.
For starters, it isn’t one muscle but rather a group of muscles and connective tissue (fascia). It is an intricate design of layers that work together like a hammock supporting the base of your pelvis.
The pelvic floor is multi-faceted and is responsible for so many important functions within your body. Appreciating its significance will help you to understand why it is essential to keep it healthy and responsive.
The pelvic floor supports the bladder, bowel, and uterus in women as well as being responsible for bladder and bowel control (continence). Another integral role is in aiding sexual sensation and function.
The pelvic floor muscles also work in conjunction with your deep abdominal muscles, deep back muscles, and diaphragm. This is more commonly known as your ‘core’.
Your core is there to support and stabilize your spine. Another crucial job of your pelvic floor is to help control the pressure inside your abdomen from certain movements (eg. lifting something heavy).
The location of the pelvic floor means that it is the gateway (picture a suspension bridge) between your upper and lower body. It helps with transferring force between these two parts in both directions. This means that as part of your core system, any tension or injury to your back or abdominal muscles will have a direct impact on your pelvic floor.
Did you know that every time you breathe you are activating your pelvic floor?
When you breathe in your pelvic floor descends and expands to support the downward pressure. When you exhale the pelvic floor contracts and returns to its resting position. 20,000 times a day you are exercising your pelvic floor without even realizing it!
You also have fascia that starts from your feet and runs up the back of your leg and then attaches to the pelvic floor. This connection means that every step you take is influencing your pelvic floor. That’s potentially another 10,000 times a day you are directly impacting your pelvic floor.
This same fascia keeps going and extends further up your body into your jaw and the bottom of your skull. Clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, or having tension in your neck and shoulders will all translate downwards like a domino effect.
Are you starting to appreciate why the health of your pelvic floor is so vital?
The pelvic floor is an anatomical marvel, the hub of a superhighway within your body. Hopefully, you now have a newfound understanding and respect for this unsung hero supporting you in all that you do.