Everything you need to know about your pelvic floor

Updated: Aug 26

Your pelvic floor, a wonderful set of muscles at the very base of your core that support your pelvic organs (including your bladder, bowel, intestines, uterus and your baby if you’re pregnant!).

Although you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your pelvic floor - we can’t see it, we don’t know if it looks strong or weak or toned like other areas of our body, a well functioning pelvic floor is absolutely vital for helping you to live a happy and carefree life - allowing you to dance around the kitchen without worrying about leaking.

Focusing on your pelvic floor is important for all women (and men, but for the purposes of this blog we’ll focus just on women), regardless of your age and whether or not you’ve had children but it will be particularly important for my mummas-to-be and all postpartum women. It’s also really important for all of us women as we age and we naturally lose some muscle tone.

Why is focused pelvic floor work important for all mums and mums-to-be?

As your bump and baby grow during pregnancy, the weight you’re carrying in your core naturally increases and that pressure goes straight to your pelvic floor. This means we’re now expecting our pelvic floor to go about her daily tasks but under the strain of more weight than she’s ever had to deal with before. And that’s not just for an hour or so at a time, but for a whole 9 months! With some dedicated pelvic floor work we can make sure she’s as strong as she can be to cope with the extra demand during pregnancy and recover well once your little one is here.

We reference a ‘strong pelvic floor’ a lot but this might be a wee bit misleading. What we want is great pelvic floor function which means not only is our pelvic floor strong but we’re also able to relax it when we need to. If we only ever focusing on strengthening your pelvic floor we can end up with all the same issues that a weak pelvic floor gives us so we really want to find a balance between the 2 for optimum pelvic floor function.

How do we achieve ‘optimum pelvic floor function’?

As we've mentioned, great pelvic floor function is all about being able to contract and relax your pelvic floor. You might hear us refer to that relaxing as a ‘lengthening’ of your pelvic floor.

Here are some simple exercises you can work through to help with great pelvic floor function;

  1. Focus on relaxing your pelvic floor with a 360°, diaphragmatic breathing technique. This technique is all about inhaling in a deeper breathing pattern that allows your lungs & ribs to expand (rather than your chest). When you do this, you should get a 360° expansion of the ribs to the front, the sides and the back. There’s a natural connection between your diaphragm and your pelvic floor. As you breathe in this way, the diaphragm contracts and moves downwards which will have a relaxation / lengthening effect on your pelvic floor (as long as we’re not holding any unnecessary tension there). We want to nurture this connection as much as we can as it has a naturally rehabilitative effect on your pelvic floor - essential for my postpartum mummas!

2. Focus on strengthening your pelvic floor by intentionally contracting it. You could isolate a pelvic floor contraction (you might know this as a Kegel) and get some level of pelvic floor contraction, OR you could contract your pelvic floor followed by engaging your abdominals and get a maximum pelvic floor contraction that is far superior in terms of strengthening your pelvic floor than a stand alone Kegel is.

Discover more about this breathing and core engagement technique here.

3. Like any other workout programme, variety is key! Our pelvic floor has 2 main groups of tasks to support us each day; 1) a constant level of support for our pelvic organs - think about this as the endurance challenge 2) the ability to be reactive to support us quickly when we cough / sneeze / jump / run / laugh - think of this as the short, sharp, sprint challenge! A varied training programme should include ways of strengthening these muscles to support with all of these daily tasks!

Click here to put all of this into practice!

Hopefully this post has given you an understanding as to why I’m always talking about the pelvic floor and why adding these simple exercises into your workout programme can help you live a happy and carefree life! Click here to sign up to our newsletter and access specifically designed pelvic floor workouts via the online studio here.

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