The pelvic floor consists of several layers of muscles that cover the bottom of the pelvic cavity. These muscles have 3 distinct roles:
- To Support the pelvic organs, the bladder,uterus and colon within the plevis.
- To assist in stopping and starting the flow of urine or the passage of gas or stool.
- To aid in sexual appreciation
How to Locate the Pelvic Floor Muscles
- Insert 1 or 2 fingers into the vagina or palce a fingertip or on into the rectal outlet.
- Contract and lift the muscle as though you were holding back gad or a bowel morvement
- You should actually feel the pelvic flor move during these muscle contractions.
The Functional Stop Test
This test is used to asses the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. DO NOT do this test every time you void because it will cause urine to flow back up into your system. It should be done once a week at the most.
- Begin a flow of urine
- Attempt to completely stop the flow of urine by contracting the pelvic floor muscles. DO NOT hold your breath. DO NOT contract your abdomen, thight or buttocks to complete the test. Try to isolate the pelvic floor muscles.
- Take note of whether you can completely stop the urine stream.
If performed correctly. you have isolated the pelvic floor muscles. When performing subsequent pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), you should feel a sensation of pulling up and in much like it did during this test.
What Makes the Pelvic Floor Muscles Weak
- Sustained coughing or sneezing
- Heavy lifting
- Hormones associated with menopauase
How Posture Affects the Pelvic Floor
The way you carry your body all day affects the pelvic floor muscles
- Standing: Keep your knees unlocked,buttocks and abdomen relaxed.
- Sitting: Use proper support for the back. An additaiton cushion under the thighs keeps pressure off the pelvic floor and buttocks
- Lying: Elevate the legs on a pillow or two.
Preventing Stree on the Pelvic Floor
As you get ready to lift:
- Bend your knees
- Gently hold in your stomach muscles
- Pull your vaginal muscles up and in.
- Exhales or breathe out as you lift.(DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH!)
- Take your bottom with you! Scoot to the edge of the chair.
- Tighten the msucles around your vagina
- Suck in your lower belly muscles.
- Push off the chair using your leg and arm msucles as you breathe out.