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Silent Support System: What is The Pelvic Floor?

Everyone has pelvic floor muscles, but since they are out of sight, they often remain out of mind for many. Attention typically arises only when significant issues occur, or when someone may be unaware that pelvic floor dysfunction might be the cause of some problems. Did you know that up to 40% of people incorrectly perform a pelvic floor contraction?

It’s important to discuss this with a physiotherapist, who can provide effective interventions in most cases. The pelvic floor muscles, described as a sling or hammock, extend from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone (coccyx) at the back.

Pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in supporting pelvic organs such as the bowel, bladder, and uterus. They contribute to maintaining control over bowel and bladder function and are even involved in sexual function. Dysfunction of these muscles can lead to consequences such as prolapse, loss of control over bowel and/or bladder function, and dyspareunia (pain during intercourse). Proper attention to your pelvic floor health is essential to prevent these potential issues.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION?

  • Ongoing constipation
  • Heavy lifting (gym or occupation-related)
  • Chronic cough or sneezing
  • Ageing
  • Over-exercising the muscles or a history of back pain
  • Being overweight
  • Previous injury
  • Pregnancy and having babies

Strengthening pelvic floor muscles requires a personalised solution. They may be either tight and unable to relax or weak and insufficient to provide support. Although hidden, the great news is pelvic floor muscles can be consciously controlled and trained.

As physiotherapists specialising in women’s health, Embrace uses both internal and external examination methods, along with real-time ultrasound to assess if your muscles are tight, weak, or just fine before prescribing a personalised pelvic floor muscle training programme. A thorough assessment is essential as it may be ineffective or harmful if you are performing your pelvic floor exercises incorrectly.

HOW TO PERFORM A PELVIC FLOOR CONTRACTION?

A correct pelvic floor contraction should feel like a gentle squeeze and lift from your back passage to the front passage. This is how we usually cue our patients:

  • Bring your focus to your anus and imagine that you need to stop passing wind. Relax.
  • Now bring your focus to your front passage and imagine that you need to stop the flow of urine. Relax.
  • Now do both at the same time. Relax.
  • Now do both without holding your breath! And…relax.
  • Ensure you are not compensating by tilting your pelvis or squeezing your buttocks and inner thigh muscles.

Clear as mud?! Let’s keep it all simple:

Women: Imagine your pelvic floor is a jellyfish—opening and closing, or a booking opening and closing.

Men: Think of it as testicles to spectacles or pulling the turtle head in.

Associating the movement with familiar imagery can help ensure a clearer understanding of the exercise. We hope this helps!

If you would like to know about the pelvic floor and its functions, please call or WhatsApp us at 9780 7274, or email us at help@embracephysio.sg to make an appointment!

Feel free to look through our website, where you can learn about other women’s health conditions we treat. This is a safe space where we can discuss how we can help you with physiotherapy.

Note: While I am a physiotherapist, I am not your personal physiotherapist. The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as individual medical advice.

Reference:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/kegel-exercise
  2. https://www.embracephysio.sg/how-to-heal-pelvic-pain-and-dyspareunia-in-women/
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003975.htmhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK579611/
  4. https://www.embracephysio.sg/managing-pelvic-organ-prolapse-yes-you-can-feel-better/#content
  5. https://www.embracephysio.sg/faecal-incontinence-in-women-how-physiotherapy-can-help/#content
  6. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-is-urinary-incontinence/#content
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