The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles that runs from the pubic bone at the front and the coccyx (tailbone) at the back. On each side, these muscles attach to the ischial tuberosities – bones you can feel if you place your hand underneath your buttocks when sitting.
Much has been said about the importance of these muscles in women, especially after giving birth. However, this group also plays a role in core stability and are therefore considered important for both men and women.
In both sexes, the pelvic floor supports the bladder and bowel, and in women, it also supports the vagina and uterus.
A weakness in the floor of the pelvis can result from:
- Following pregnancy
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic coughing – such as ‘smoker’s cough’
- Heavy lifting
- The aging process
The result of weakness can lead to pelvic and low back pain, sexual dysfunction and stress incontinence – wetting yourself when you laugh, cough or sneeze.
Finding your pelvic floor
You can find your pelvic floor muscles by assuming a relaxed posture – either sitting, standing or lying down. Squeeze the ring of muscle around your back passage as though you were trying to stop passing wind. Then relax and repeat a few times. Be sure you do not contract you buttock muscles and keep your thighs and shoulders relaxed. You should feel a distinct ‘squeeze and lift’ of your pelvic floor.
Exercising your pelvic floor
Once you have found the pelvic floor, exercising is simply a matter of holding the contraction. This is best done when time with slow breathing. Assume a comfortable position – lying down on your back with knees bent. Relax the body as you gently breathe in. slowly breathe out and at the same time contract the pelvic floor. Repeat 10 times. Try this exercise in different body positions such as sitting or standing with relaxed upright posture.