Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sits like a bowl within your pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles have attachments to your pubic bone, tailbone and pelvis. They are working throughout your day in many ways you may not have ever realized…
5 Important Functions of the Pelvic Floor Muscles:
- Sphincteric: The muscles of the pelvic floor wrap around and control the opening of your bladder and rectum. When there is an increase in abdominal pressure (for example when you cough, sneeze, laugh or jump), these muscles contract around your urethra and anus to prevent leakage. Equally as important, these muscles have to relax and lengthen to allow us to urinate or have bowel movements easily.
- Support: The pelvic floor muscles act as a basket to support our pelvic organs (bladder, rectum and uterus) against gravity and increases in abdominal pressure. With excess strain on the pelvic floor (especially during pregnancy), or with weakening of the pelvic floor (with age or hormonal changes), the pelvic organs can start to protrude near the vaginal opening. This is referred to as prolapse.
- Stability: Because of their attachments to the pelvis and hips, the pelvic floor muscles are an important part of the “core”. These muscles assist other abdominal, hip and back muscles to control movement of the sacroiliac and hip joints. If you are trying to strengthen your core — you pelvic floor should be a part of your training program!
- Sexual: During intercourse, the pelvic floor muscles help to achieve and sustain an erection and allow for penetration. Sufficient strength of the pelvic floor muscles is necessary for orgasm, and excessive tension or sensitivity of the pelvic floor can also contribute to pain during or after intercourse.
- Sump-pump: Just like the calf muscles in your leg act to pump blood and lymphatic fluid back up towards your heart, the pelvic floor muscles act as a blood/lymph pump for the pelvis. A loss of this “sump-pump” action can contribute to swelling or pelvic congestion.