5 Myths Most People Believe About the Pelvic Floor Muscles

Woman Leaning on Exercise Ball --- Image by © RCWW, Inc./Corbis  

 

I have heard many conversations lately (both in person and

online) about bladder leakage.  Everyone seems to be peeing

a little bit when they lift, run, or laugh.

 

It's joked about with new moms, athletes, and menopausal

women like it is inevitable.  The issue is no joke!  It's a

problem with the pelvic floor muscles and that is NOT

normal.

 

Your pelvic floor muscles are an internal hammock that

supports the pelvic organs.   We use these muscles to:

  • consciously control our bowel and bladder
  • perform sexual functions
  • assist the birthing process
  • stabilize the spine

 

As we age, these muscle can weaken and no longer function

in an optimal manner. The risk for problems increases with

childbirth, menopause, abdominal surgery, obesity, smoking,

and chronic constipation.

 

These risk factors are true for A LOT of individuals.  BUT,

just because something is common does not mean it is

normal.

 

To say it is normal is to say that there is nothing to be done

to change it. And there is absolutely a lot you can do to

improve the function of your pelvic floor and regain your

freedom and dignity.  You just need to cut through the

myths that surround this delicate subject.

 

MYTH #1 - Everyone needs to do kegels for a

strong pelvic floor.

 

The only thing usually discussed in regards to pelvic floor

is kegel exercises.  These involve squeezing your pelvic

floor muscles to improve strength.

 

However, many women do kegels incorrectly.  This can

worsen conditions such as incontinence, pelvic pain, and

even low back pain.

 

MYTH #2 - Pelvic floor problems only occur

when the muscles are weak. 

 

Many clients who work on kegels without relief of their

symptoms actually have a different kind of problem not

related to weakness.  In these cases, the muscles are

actually too tight.

 

For the muscles to function correctly they must be able to

both contract and relax, just like any other muscle in your

body. Therefore, training must be done to relax the muscle

before any strengthening such as kegels should be initiated.

 

 

MYTH #3 - I'm too old to strengthen my pelvic

floor muscles.

 

As many people age, they resign themselves to urinary

incontinence or give up on sexual activity due to pain.  They

believe they are just "too old" to improve upon their pelvic

floor and regain their freedom.

 

This is not true!  Research shows that age is no barrier to

the benefits of strengthening exercise, and that includes

the pelvic floor muscles.

 

Myth #4 - I'm a man so I don't need pelvic floor

exercises.

 

Men often think they are off the hook because pelvic floor

problems are frequently associated with pregnancy and

menopause.  However, men do have essentially the same

pelvic floor muscles as women.

 

Therefore, they can reap similar benefits regarding pelvic,

back, sexual, urinary, and bowel health. Most notably for

men, these muscles must be trained to improve bladder

control after prostate surgery.

 

Myth #5 - I have a strong core so I have a strong

pelvic floor. 

 

When we discuss "core muscles" we refer to abdominal,

low back, and pelvic floor muscles.  It's often hard to identify

the difference between each of these since they work

together.

 

However, a six pack does not mean you have strong pelvic

floor muscles, because abdominal exercise won't directly

strengthen the pelvic floor.  Specific pelvic floor exercise are

needed to strengthen the pelvic floor.

 

TRUTH. . . we can't ignore our pelvic floor!

 

Exercises to improve the function of the pelvic floor must

address the deep muscles of the abdominal wall.  By

improving muscle flexibility, strength, coordination, and

body awareness we can improve muscle function and lower

the risk of incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain.

 

When problems occur during pregnancy, menopause, post

surgically, or with age an individualized problem may be

needed.  Specifically in cases of post partum pelvic pain,

studies found that optimal results are achieved with the

help of a physical therapist who addresses the entire spinal

musculature and pelvic alignment through an individually

guided program.

 

Please feel free to comment below or send me a private

e-mail with any further questions you have in this area.

amanda@peakpotentialpt.com