What Is the Pelvic Floor? Everything You Need to Know
What is a pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the base of your torso that support your organs, such as your bladder, and form your genitals, anus, and more. Your torso holds your organs and your pelvic floor―the base or foundation of your “core”―is what keeps them in your body! The pelvic floor muscles include a superficial layer and a deeper layer. These muscles are always at work, lengthening and contracting as you digest your food, sneeze, have sex, breathe, work, play, and everything in between.
What causes a weak pelvic floor?
Pelvic floor weakness is often misunderstood as the floor being "stretched out" or damaged. While this definitely can happen, it’s an overly simple view. (Did you know that some women’s pelvic floor are in a constant state of gripping, not able to relax and lengthen when needed?) A better way of asking this question is, “What causes changes in pelvic floor function?” Significant life events such as pregnancy, childbirth, injury and abdominal surgery certainly affect pelvic floor function. But so do age, miseducation, lack of awareness, and stress.
How do I know if my pelvic floor muscles are strong?
Like above, we suggest another way of asking this question: “How do I know if my pelvic floor is functional?” Well, can you sneeze without leaking? Does your pelvis feel heavy, like your organs might tumble out, when you jump, walk, or lift? Do you have discomfort during sex? A well-functioning pelvic floor helps prevent―or alleviate―common symptoms like these.
How do I strengthen my pelvic floor?
This is certainly one of the most common questions we field. At HappySneeze, we consider coordination as a necessary precursor for building strength. The pelvic floor needs to know how to release/lengthen and recoil/activate before it can be effective. Pelvic floor function (a better concept than “pelvic floor strength”) must be addressed in a full-body approach with full-body movements in various positions, speeds, and loads. Building awareness and strength in the muscles surrounding the pelvic floor is also required.
Are Kegels good for pelvic floor strength?
Think of Kegels as an intentional “close and lift” of the pelvic floor muscles. This motion is, of course, beneficial and necessary! However, one exercise or motion, whether a shrug for a shoulder injury or Kegels for a pelvic floor problem, is not enough to support the overall function of a complicated system―no matter how many reps you do. The pelvic floor is a complex group of layered muscles that both support and coordinate with each other.
How long does it take to strengthen the pelvic floor? And how do I maintain a strong pelvic floor?
The HappySneeze method is a six-week program that progressively layers learning, awareness, and practice. Some users see results as early as Week 3. However, because our program is built on the science of habit formation and on body awareness, the full six weeks yields the best results.
Remember: HappySneeze retrains your brain and body to connect with your pelvic floor, rerouting brain and muscle habits to build and maintain muscle tone and coordination. It may sound like a big time commitment, but the program is framed around engaging the pelvic floor during everyday movements―things you are doing all day already.
What exercises are bad for the pelvic floor?
We receive this question in many forms, including, “Are squats good for pelvic floor?” and, “Are planks bad for pelvic floor? With foundational knowledge and awareness/control of the pelvic floor, no exercise is inherently good or bad. Building awareness and coordination will allow your body to move in all kinds of wondrous ways, all while engaging and protecting the pelvic floor. Over time (and don’t you just wish it could be overnight?), you can build your ability to sense whether a particular exercise, done a particular way on a particular day, is helping or hindering your quest for pelvic wellness.
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s so much more to learn (or relearn). Learn more about our program to see if HappySneeze is the next right step for you.
For as much as the term “pelvic floor” is used, many people really have only a vague idea of what a pelvic floor is exactly.
At Happy Sneeze, we encounter intelligent women who want to do better by their bodies yet don’t know where to start. Sometimes, they are fairly well versed on pelvic floor matters, yet they haven’t found a program works long term. The Happy Sneeze program is centered on sensing and understanding your own pelvic floor on a deeper level, which leads to better, more coordinated pelvic floor function and wellness.
Before women embark on the program, they typically have a whole host of questions. Here are some of our “greatest hits,” or most commonly asked questions about the pelvic floor. Make sure and visit what is stress incontinence.