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pelvic pain

Pelvic Health

The Massive Job of
Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor, better known as the pelvic diaphragm, is a band of integrated muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons that run inside the pelvic bowl. This is similar to a trampoline around its frame. Just as your respiratory diaphragm rises and falls with each inhale and exhales, so should your pelvic floor. Think of it like a trampoline that holds all the pelvic organs and guts up against gravity.  This is a huge job!

The ability of your pelvic floor to rise and fall in a supportive fashion is directly related to your posture, your ability to breathe properly, and the ability to load and unload your left and right sides in an alternating and reciprocating fashion.

Many people assume pelvic floor issues stem from “weak” or “deconditioned” pelvic floors. This can be true in some cases, but I find in most cases, an individuals’ inability to fully relax their pelvic floor is the culprit, more so than true pelvic floor weakness.

A hypertonic or tight pelvic floor can lead to leaking, back pain, hip pain, labral tears, pain with intercourse, plantar fasciitis, and many more. The ability for someone to understand how to relax the pelvic floor fully — to then be able to contract it fully for stabile, strong support.

pelvic health

Keys to Understanding Pelvic Health

Patterns in the body that lead to poor pelvic position:

• Inability to move, compress or expand the rib cage
• Inability to relax the neck and allow the head to wobble freely
• Overlengthened or stretched hamstrings that allow the pelvis to tip or fall forward, putting excess pressure, shortening, or tightening of the pelvic floor.
• Butt gripping when standing.  If you are squeezing your butt all day, then you are squeezing, shortening, or tightening your pelvic floor.
• Wearing clothing or pants that increase pressure around your middle (like high waisted yoga pants). High waisted pants make it easier to create a downward pressure or “push” into the pelvic floor, decreasing your ability to support its rise and fall.
• Poor footwear. Flip flops, Ugg boots, Crocs…? Say goodbye to your pelvic floor. Your body needs to be able to sense and feel the floor. The more grounded to the floor you become, the better your pelvic floor becomes.
• Belly breathing.  The pelvic floor lowers with each inhale and rises with each exhale.  Belly breathing places the abdominals at a mechanical disadvantage or lengthened position, therefore causing the diaphragm to remain flattened as well. The respiratory diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm are BFFs.  If the respiratory diaphragm is flattened and cannot rise due to weak abdominal engagement, then the pelvic floor also remains in a flattened or lengthened state and now you have a bottomed-out trampoline that lost support.
• Socks on hard wood floors decrease the friction between your foot and the floor and are likely to put way more pressure on your pelvic floor. So instead of sensing the ground and gripping with your feet, you must grip your pelvic floor, hips and back to prevent extra slipping underneath your feet. If your feet are cold, try a sock with grip on the bottom.

The list could go on...

From simple things like good shoes, not wearing socks on slippery floors, avoiding high waisted pants to more intentional work on breathing, movement, and repatterning…the pelvic floor can be addressed in many ways.  Understanding how to fully relax and contract the pelvic floor through breathing, movement, changing muscle tone, expanding the rib cage, abdominal engagement and rethinking everyday movements can make or break your ability to decrease incontinence, decrease joint pain, decrease tissue pain, decrease pain with intercourse, improve labor and delivery, and improve overall performance.

To find out how to improve your Pelvic Health, setup a consultaiton with me to access and deliver solutions for an improved quality of life.
- Paige McNerthney MPT, PRC, PCES, CSCS, CKTP