• Laura

The Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor:

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that attaches from the pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, running like a hammock to your tailbone at the back. The pelvic floor muscles are made up of two types of muscle fibres: slow twitch fibres for endurance and fast twitch fibres for quick contractions.

The pelvic floor has several functions:

o It supports your pelvic and abdominal organs (bladder, uterus and bowel)

o It maintains bladder and bowel control

o It helps the core muscles support the spine

o And, during pregnancy it helps rotate the baby’s head into the correct birth position

If you have weakness or dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles you may experience leaking of urine, leaking of faeces, urgency, increased frequency of urination, pain in the lower abdomen or signs of a pelvic organ prolapse, such as a dragging, heavy feeling. Some of the common causes of pelvic floor weakness are:

o Childbirth, especially following delivery of a large baby or prolonged pushing during delivery

o Pregnancy itself weakens the pelvic floor due to carrying the weight of the baby and the effects of hormonal changes

o Constipation where excessive straining has been needed to empty your bowels

o Lack of exercise

o Excessive coughing

o Persistent heavy lifting

o Changes in hormone levels at menopause

o Growing older

With the correct exercises the pelvic floor can be strengthened and its endurance improved. It can be hard to determine if you are performing your pelvic floor exercises correctly. A women’s health physiotherapist can help teach you to activate these muscles effectively and provide you with an exercise programme specific to your areas of need.

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