Pelvic floor can be trained

The Southland Times - - WELL & GOOD - RAEWYN NG

Q: I had the last of my kids seven years ago, but I’m still hav­ing prob­lems with my pelvic floor. Can I tighten up those mus­cles this long after the fact? A: Yes, you can fix your pelvic floor years after kids – the pelvic floor is a mus­cle and just like any other mus­cle you can train it to get stronger and func­tion bet­ter.

It’s im­por­tant to note the pelvic floor doesn’t work in iso­la­tion – if you think of your ‘‘core’’ like a bal­loon, you have the pelvic floor on the bot­tom, the di­aphragm at the top, your trans­verse ab­do­mi­nis which wraps around your waist like a corset and your mul­ti­fidus (a deep spinal mus­cle) at the back. If you put pres­sure on one part of this bal­loon you will get in­creased pres­sure on the other parts. So, hold­ing on to your abs (the front part) will push ei­ther up or down, and the weak­est area will give way. What is of­ten con­sid­ered a pelvic floor ‘‘weak­ness’’ may ac­tu­ally be an over­ac­tive pelvic floor or just poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the mus­cles.

Breath­ing tech­niques

The pelvic floor is not meant to be ‘‘on’’ all the time. When it’s op­er­at­ing op­ti­mally, we breathe in, the di­aphragm moves down and the pelvic floor re­laxes. As we breathe out, the di­aphragm moves up and the floor con­tracts. This should all work to­gether, and we can learn to co-or­di­nate the two. What we want to do is pro­mote the in­te­gra­tion of pelvic floor func­tion with the rest of the body.


Of­ten dur­ing preg­nancy the lower back de­vel­ops greater curve to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing baby, the ribs are pushed for­ward of the hips and the po­si­tion of the core mus­cu­la­ture is af­fected. In this po­si­tion, the pelvic floor can’t relax and con­tract fully when breath­ing, which can im­pact strength in the area. Of­ten after preg­nancy women will main­tain this pos­ture, so cor­rect­ing this align­ment and en­cour­ag­ing the hips to po­si­tion un­der the ribs can also help pelvic floor func­tion.


Poor diet or in­ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion af­fects mus­cle elas­tic­ity. En­sure you have a nu­tri­tious diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, good pro­tein and fats which can also help with mus­cle func­tion. At dif­fer­ent times of the men­strual cy­cle, a woman’s hor­mones will also in­flu­ence mus­cle elas­tic­ity.

Con­tin­u­ously try­ing to squeeze your pelvic floor ‘‘on’’ is great for iso­lat­ing the mus­cles, but not for im­prov­ing pelvic floor func­tion. Like any other mus­cle, it needs to be trained to switch on and off to func­tion ef­fi­ciently. If you have con­cerns about your pelvic floor func­tion, con­tact a spe­cial­ist pelvic floor physio. Raewyn Ng is a move­ment coach at My­bod Health and Fit­ness.

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