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Is the pelvic floor the new core?

Trick question, the pelvic floor is a major part of the core! If you’ve been in an exercise routine recently or are just simply conscious about spinal health, then you have likely heard of the “core” muscles. They are a group of deeper muscles that help support the spine and maintain proper alignment of the body’s frame. The pelvic floor is the unsung hero of your body’s core. 

While we recognize the core as those muscles that give us the “six-pack” look and more of a “V” shaped frame, you rarely hear of people working out their pelvic floor. That’s because the pelvic floor requires a specialist to properly diagnose and treat. 

The pelvic floor is a large sheet of muscle that stretches from the tailbone in the back to your pelvic bone in the front. Imagine the pelvic floor creates a sling for the organs of the pelvis that provides support and helps maintain the proper position of those organs. When we lose tension in the pelvic floor it can lead to many problems that affect men and women alike. Signs of a pelvic floor problem include incontinence when laughing, sneezing or exercising; difficulty in emptying your bladder, pain in the pelvic area or during sex, and a constant urge to go to the bathroom.

How do pelvic floor problems begin? 

Pelvic floor problems occur when the muscles are stretched, weakened or too tight. Some develop weak pelvic muscles from an early age while others develop problems following certain life stages such as pregnancy, childbirth or menopause. Some people have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight and cannot relax. This can be made worse by doing squeezing exercises and overworking the muscles without learning how to relax. Pelvic floor muscle fitness is affected by a number of things including pregnancy, history of back pain, being overweight, heavy lifting, chronic cough or sneeze, injuries to the pelvis, or just growing older.

Although it is hidden from view, your pelvic floor muscles can be consciously controlled and therefore trained, much like your arm, leg or abdominal muscles. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help you to actively support your bladder and bowel. This improves bladder and bowel control and reduces the likelihood of accidentally leaking from your bladder or bowel. Like other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles will become stronger with a regular exercise program. This is important for both men and women.

How does Chiropractic help?

Through a thorough history and chiropractic examination, we can assess the pelvic floor dysfunction and create a treatment plan specifically based on your goals and functional abilities. These procedures may include performing specific adjustments of the pubic symphysis and sacroiliac joints, ligament release techniques and working the soft tissue surrounding the pelvic floor. 

We also collaborate with Dr. Whitney Ellsworth, DPT, who specializes in pelvic floor work in women. Together we educate you on exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles, work with you to strengthen your abdominal core muscles, and educate you on proper posture to keep pressure off the pelvic floor.

There is promising evidence that shows the proper strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles along with lifestyle changes can help reduce or resolve pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are concerned about pelvic floor problems please contact us at 918-477-7909.

— Dr. Riley Powell, DC

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