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What is the Pelvic Floor and why does it Matter?

pelvic floor Feb 29, 2024

The pelvic floor is a dome-shaped group of muscles that sits like a sling at the bottom of your pelvis. It connects to your pubic bone at the front, tail bone at the back, and the bottom of your pelvic bones. Its role is to support your internal organs, maintain continence and assist in defecation and childbirth.

Dome-shaped you say? Sounds familiar? That is because there is another muscle that is dome-shaped and that is your diaphragm, which sits at the top of your abdomen at the bottom of the ribs.

The diaphragm and pelvic floor are both part of your ‘core muscles’. 

We need to think of our core as more than just abs, it made up a multitude of muscles such as your diaphragm at the top, pelvic floor at the bottom, transverse abs at the sides, multifidus at the back and rectus abdominous at the front. 

These muscles need to be able to co-contract and work together to be able to create a strong and stable trunk, as well as relax to assist with birth and to work optimally. 

Source: Burrell Education

 

Breathing & Lifting during Pregnancy

Some of us may be familiar with the ‘brace breathing’ - the deep breath, ‘tighten your tummy like you are going to get punched’ breathing that we do at the start of a heavy lift. This (also known as the Valsalva Technique) creates a lot of intra-abdominal pressure, which acts as a natural corset around your spine. 

Your pelvic floor is one part of this corset and if it is not contracting optimally (either from lack of strength or over-fatigued from being constantly contracted) then there is a risk that we are putting undue pressure on our pelvic floor.

Furthermore, if your pelvic floor cannot contract sufficiently enough to match the downward pressure from the intra-abdominal pressure this can lead to leaking or pelvic floor dysfunction. But we can learn to use the pelvic floor to manage intra-abdominal pressure caused by lifting and impact. 

In the next few pages, I’ll explain some of the steps that will help you to breathe whilst lifting during pregnancy.

Once you have mastered the breathing and pelvic floor lifting below, you can incorporate this breathing into your exercises to help support your lifts. 

  • Inhale as you move through the lowering part of the exercise
  • Exhale and gentle lift your pelvic floor the concentric (i.e. the harder) part of the exercise - think the standing part of a bodyweight squat or the pressing part of a pallof press.

 

Source: Umi-Health

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