The pelvic floor: The muscle group we all should know more about

The pelvic floor: The muscle group we all should know more about

by: Sujata Martins, MS, OTR/L, CD

Out of sight, out of mind is a common saying for most and unfortunately tends to be applied to the pelvic floor. By learning to take care of our pelvic floor, most of us can avoid embarrassing accidents, as well as spending money on incontinence products, medications, and even surgery. It is also extremely valuable for pregnant women in order to prepare for delivery and postpartum healing, and plays an important role in intimacy. 

Most of us don’t realize the impact the pelvic floor has on our health and wellness until we experience troubling symptoms. Throughout our lifetime, the pelvic floor keeps our bowels & bladder in good working order and keeps us pain-free in the hips, low back & pelvic region. The easiest way to have a healthy pelvic floor is to include exercises, like kegels and reverse kegels into your daily routine for strengthening and flexibility. 

How to Properly do Kegels & Reverse Kegels

Start by sitting on a firm surface, or in a comfortable standing position. Bring your focus to the muscles in your pelvic region. Do a pelvic floor contraction, or Kegel, by pulling in your tailbone towards the pubic bone. Alternately, you can also draw in or squeeze your sitz bones towards each other. Hold for 1-3 seconds and then let your muscles relax. Like any other muscle, the pelvic floor needs to do both contraction and relaxation to be in optimal shape, so don’t forget to add Reverse Kegels to your exercise routine.

For reverse kegels, visualize the movement of the tailbone moving away from the pubic bone, or the sitz bones pulling away from each other. This allows conscious opening or relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles - similar to the action of releasing flatulence.

Similar to any new exercise routine, please consult with your physician before regularly practicing pelvic floor exercises, especially if you have an abdominal or pelvic health condition. If you experience any increase in symptoms with pelvic floor exercises, discontinue them and seek a pelvic floor assessment. A pelvic floor assessment may also be necessary if you have experienced incontinence, pelvic pain, or chronic low back & tailbone pain. These assessments are completed by a pelvic floor specialist, which can include an occupational therapy or physical therapy practitioner with advanced training in rehabilitation of the pelvic muscles. You can find one close to you by searching the national registry using your zip code.

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