The pelvic floor is the foundation of the body and affects the stability and mobility of everything else. It is an integral part of the core system of the body and imbalances in the pelvic floor will affect every other part of the body.
One in three women has pelvic floor dysfunction, such as incontinence (leaking urine), pelvic pain or pelvic organ prolapse (when the bladder, uterus or bowels drop down from their normal attachment sites), to name just a few examples, which can be devastating to the woman’s quality of life. She may avoid many activities and will often plan her life according to the location of bathrooms. She may also consider this subject taboo and prefer to restrict her activities rather than broach the subject with her fitness coach or perhaps even her doctor. The media perpetuates this dysfunction by advertising adult diapers rather than educating that there is help for this problem.
Alignment affects the pelvic floor and vice versa and the whole story here basically relates to pressure. When we sit for lengthy periods, as is common in our lifestyle, we often sit in a slumped position which puts pressure on the pelvic floor and also keeps pressure on the linea alba, perpetuating diastasis recti. In standing, many people tuck the pelvis under, which will also contribute to the dysfunction. Pelvic floor imbalance can contribute to orthopedic injuries including low back pain, knee weakness, etc. and may also negatively affect balance.
Breathing is another huge contributor to pelvic floor dysfunction – again – think pressure. Belly breathing, for example will exert pressure on the pelvic floor with each inbreath. So will many other types of common, inefficient types of breathing.
Childbirth is often blamed for pelvic floor dysfunction and, while this certainly is far from the only cause, I recommend that every woman sees a pelvic floor physical therapist after giving birth, whether she gave birth vaginally or via cesarean. Gut health affects both men and women and has nothing to do with childbirth. People with chronic constipation may also have pelvic floor dysfunction, due to prolonged pressure on this area.
Many women think that the reason for their pelvic floor dysfunction is that the muscles are weak and that in order to strengthen these muscles, they need to do tons of kegel exercises. In many cases, the dysfunction is actually because women have been overworking their pelvic floor muscles, causing an overtightening that led to weakness, not strength. Women need to learn to use these muscles effectively and efficiently, which also means decreasing tension.
The pelvic floor muscles work in synergy with some of the abdominal muscles, so that the one system supports the other system, when activated efficiently and effectively. For this reason, the IMPROVING CORE FUNCTION program emphasizes alignment, breathing and functional activation of the pelvic floor. You will learn how to minimally activate the pelvic floor as postural support when you are in upright positions (sitting, standing, moving), how to activate the pelvic floor according to the load required AND how to fully release the pelvic floor at rest.
Almost all of our daily movements are subconscious, so the Pelvic Core Neuromuscular System (PCNS) should be trained to fire automatically in order to promote optimal biomechanical health. We do this in the IMPROVING CORE FUNCTION program with light, variable resistance through several planes of motion in order to effectively and efficiently stimulate the pelvic core. This is a very different method of training from the conscious pelvic floor contraction like the Kegel.
My goal in developing this program is to improve the function of all the core muscles, including the pelvic floor, in order to be able to do the activities that bring you joy and to inspire your confidence in your daily movements.