The “pelvic floor” refers to a group of muscles that attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum (the large bone at the bottom of your spine, just above the tailbone). Like a sling or hammock, these muscles support the organs in the pelvis, including the bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum. They also wrap around your urethra, rectum, and vagina in women.
Coordinated contracting and relaxing of these muscles control bowel and bladder functions—the pelvic floor must relax to allow for urination, bowel movements and, in women, sexual intercourse. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women experience women’s health problems during their lifetime. This includes problems with their pelvic floor. Many tolerate these problems, often for years, either too embarrassed to seek help or unaware that there are treatments available.
Pelvic Floor weakness occurs when the soft tissues supporting the organs weaken. This can be caused by various issues including neuro-muscular disorders, chronic low back pain, childbirth, aging, chronic cough, hormonal changes in menopause, excessive straining in constipation, constant heavy lifting and obesity. There’s a lot of publicity given to incontinence in women over their lifespan but men commonly suffer with urinary control issues too.
How can Osteopathy help tone and strengthen muscles in the pelvic area?
The Osteopath will design a treatment program specifically for you, based on your functional ability, aims and goals. Progress is regularly reviewed and treatment programs are modified to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Treatment can include:
- Regularly exercise the pelvic floor muscles, including exercises called “Pelvic Clocks” and “Kegels” to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region. By carrying out a regular exercise program you can train your pelvic floor back to good health.
- Soft tissue manipulation.
- Training in home exercise and therapy.
- Patient education.
- Advice on relaxing the muscles before strengthening the pelvic floor area is important.
- Maintaining good posture to keep pressure off your bladder and pelvic organs and using stretching techniques to avoid tightness or spasm in the pelvic muscles.
- Avoid pushing or straining when urinating.