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What Is the Pelvic Floor?

The Three Most Important Factors When Considering Your Pelvic Health and Wellness

Pelvic Floor Anatomy

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles that lay at the base of the pelvis. These muscles span from hip to hip and from the pubic bone all the way back to the tailbone.

Did you know that our pelvic floor is an integral component of our core?

Our deep core system is composed of four muscle groups:

  1. The pelvic floor muscles.
  2. The respiratory diaphragm.
  3. The deep back extensors (multifidi). 
  4. The deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis.

The deep core system creates an intricate system of balanced pressure and is sometimes referred to as the abdominal canister. All components of the system coordinate with every breath we take to promote optimal support and functional stability as we move throughout the day.

The function of the pelvic floor muscles are:

  1. Stability - The pelvic floor provides stability for the abdominals, hip, and back muscles. In addition, this group of muscles is often referred to as "the anticipatory core" or "the reflexive core" as it has the ability to anticipate movement of our limbs in order to stabilize our center before we move our arms or legs. Since it is an integral component of our core system it should be considered as an essential  part of any fitness program.
  2. Support - Our pelvic floor provides support to our pelvic organs; the bowel, bladder and uterus. These muscles must be maintained in a healthy length-tension relationship in order to function properly. Pelvic floor muscles that are weak and/or lengthened can cause the pelvic organs to move from their normal position. This can lead to a feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic floor and is called Pelvic Organ Prolapse. 
  3. Sphincteric - There is a closure mechanism to allow for control of bowel and bladder in order to maintain continence. Dysfunctions of the pelvic floor can lead to urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, urinary urgency, bowel incontinence, bowel urgency and/or frequency, or constipation.
  4. Sexual - Our pelvic floor muscles allow for sexual appreciation. Pelvic floor muscles that are too tight can lead to painful sex, pelvic pain, low back pain, tailbone pain, or hip pain. Muscles that are weak can affect the quality and/or ability to orgasm or urinary/fecal leaking.

Dysfunction of the Pelvic floor muscles can lead to bowel and bladder disorders ranging from leaking or dribbling to urinary or fecal incontinence, constipation, and incomplete emptying. Pain in the low back, pelvic and genital region can be a result of pelvic floor muscle imbalance. Pelvic floor muscles that are too tight or too weak can lead to sexual dysfunction such as pain, difficulty with penetration, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty achieving orgasm.

Promoting a healthy pelvic floor should be high on our personal health and wellness priority list. A balanced pelvic floor foundation allows our body to function most effectively and efficiently. 

In order to create balance in our core, we need to consider three important factors:

  1. Posture
  2. A neutral pelvic position.
  3. Maintaining an optimal length- tension relationship of these muscles.

Did you know that your posture directly affects the performance of your pelvic floor muscles?

If you are leaking urine or feces, have pelvic organ prolapse, having trouble breathing efficiently, having difficulty achieving orgasm, or have pelvic pain, your posture may be part of the culprit.

Posture refers to the way we position and hold our bodies.

What is optimal or neutral posture?

A neutral posture is when all three curvatures of our spine (cervical, lumbar, and thoracic) are balanced. Our head, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle are vertically aligned or stacked.

In order to achieve and maintain a neutral posture we must hold ourselves with a neutral pelvic position.

Where is our neutral pelvic position?

The easiest way to find your neutral pelvis is to try the extremes first; the classic gymnast position is held with the pelvis tilted extremely forward. This stretches the pelvic floor muscles holding them in a position that is too taut and not optimal for support. Then there is the “tail tucked under” extreme. In this position, our pelvic floor muscles have too much slack, they are too relaxed and cannot provide the best support.

Neutral pelvis is somewhere between these two extremes.

Find your neutral pelvic position by bringing your pelvis between these two extremes a few times to feel where your neutral pelvic position lies.

Good posture means that the pelvic floor muscles have the most optimal length-tension relationship.

This will allow your core muscles to perform five critical functions:

  1. Activate and anticipate the movement of your limbs.
  2. Provide the best foundational support for your organs.
  3. Allow for optimal sexual appreciation.
  4. Allow our pelvic floor muscles to properly engage to promote continence and decrease risk or symptoms of prolapse.
  5. Improve the efficiency and quality of your breathing with your diaphragm.

Promoting a healthy pelvic floor should be high on our personal health and wellness priority list. A balanced pelvic floor foundation allows our body to function most effectively and efficiently so stand tall and stand with a neutral spine and pelvis. Allow this incredible group of muscles to work efficiently supporting and stabilizing you throughout the day.

For more information on the pelvic floor: call 561-295-1631.

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