Whether you are male or female, your pelvic floor is connected to your core (and your diaphragm). While common, pelvic floor dysfunction is not normal and you do not have to suffer through the pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
There are many signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, but a few of the common signs are:
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Pelvic organ prolapse (POP): pelvic organs descend through their canal and through a weakened portion of the vagina
- Diastasic Recti
- Incontinence (leaking/peeing at inappropriate times) or difficulty emptying the bladder
Pelvic Floor Risk Factors
Risk factors are just that, factors that put you at risk for developing something. The good thing is, having one of these does not mean you are doomed for pelvic floor dysfunction!
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Tilted Pelvis (see Neutral Spine)
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Persistent coughing without mindful control of IAP
- Menopause: due to decrease in estrogen production
- Repetitive abdominal training (see)
Healing the Pelvic Floor
Whether you have a diastasis recti, incontinence or struggle through pain during sex, a referral to a women’s health PT is the only 100% recommendation I can make. (Need a good one? Check out BodyGears in the Chicagoland area!)
Dysfunction of the pelvic floor can be caused by both hypotonic or hypertonic, weak or strong pelvic floor musculature. It’s important to be properly evaluated so you know what to do (and what not to do).
Healing the Pelvic Floor through the Breath
Creating a diaphragmatic breath that encompasses a 360 degree region (see The Hows and Whys to Working that Sexy Core ) will help with stabilization of the spine, abdominal musculature and pelvic floor.
Furthermore, watch posture. Ideally, you want the diaphragm to sit on top of the pelvic floor. Be conscious of alignment and make sure you are rib thrusting or tilting the pelvis.
What to Avoid
When healing a prolapse or diastasis recti, it’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to knowing what to do. Some common things to avoid include:
- Avoid exercises that target flexion of the rectus abdominis (sit-ups, crunches, V-ups, bicycle kicks, etc.)
- Avoid rib thrusting and tilting the pelvis
- No breath-holding or sucking in or pulling belly button to spine
- Avoid kegels unless recommended by PT for hypotonic pelvic floor