20 Aug Where are the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The group of muscles that make up the base of your core are collectively called the pelvic floor. They are muscles like every other muscle in your body, they are just inside, so most people don’t give them any thought until they start to have a problem, like leaking(incontinence) or when the bladder or uterus starts to descend (pelvic organ prolapse).
People often hear that they should strengthen the pelvic floor, but either don’t even know what muscles are involved, or if they are able to work them properly. Let’s break it down:
This is the view of the pelvic floor muscles if looking from below; at the top, there is the urethra (the hole where urine comes out), then the vagina, and at the bottom, the anus. The pelvic floor muscles sling from the pubic bone on the front to the tailbone at the back, and also can wrap around the vagina and anus. Together they act as support for the base of the core and trunk, and stability as they attach to the bones of the pelvis, spine and hips. When the muscles contract, they behave like a sphincter to affect the vagina or anus, and can also help pump lymph through the system to prevent pooling at the pelvis.
So now that you know where they are anatomically, how do you locate these muscles? Both men and women can do this in the same way.
- Sit or lie down and keep all of your muscles relaxed. It is often easier for people to identify these muscles if they are lying down to start.
- Squeeze the muscles around the back aspect of your pelvic floor as if you are trying to stop passing wind, then relax them. Try this several times until you are sure that you are contracting the right muscles, and don’t squeeze your buttock muscles—they should stay relaxed.
- When sitting on the toilet to urinate, try to stop the stream, then start it again. You can try this to learn the right muscles to engage, but do not train this way or do it often, as it can mess with the reflexes between your bladder and pelvic floor muscles. It’s a good technique to understand the proper contraction of the pelvic floor (it should feel like a lift in your vagina or scrotum), but continue to practice this Kegel exercise while not urinating!
- If you don’t feel a distinct “squeeze and lift” through your pelvic floor muscles, it’s time to contact your doctor, or better yet, a physiotherapist who is specially trained in working with your pelvic floor