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Is the Pelvic Floor the Forgotten Core?


medical provider holding pelvis model with pelvic floor muscles

When we think of the core, we often picture the abdominal muscles, but there's a crucial component that's often forgotten – the pelvic floor. In this blog post, we'll explore what the core and pelvic floor are, how they work together, the impact of dysfunctional patterns, and how physical therapy can help you unlock the potential of these vital muscles for improved function and well-being.


Understanding the Core and Pelvic Floor:


The core is more than just your six-pack muscles; it's a complex network of muscles that provides stability and support to the spine and pelvis. It includes not only the abdominals but also the back muscles, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor, located at the base of the pelvis, consists of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that support the pelvic organs and contribute to bladder and bowel control.


Working Together: The core and pelvic floor function as a dynamic team, providing stability, controlling intra-abdominal pressure, and supporting posture and movement. When you engage your core muscles, such as during lifting or bending, the pelvic floor should also activate to maintain stability and prevent dysfunction.


Dysfunctional Patterns and Daily Life:


Dysfunction in the core and pelvic floor can manifest in various ways, impacting daily life and overall well-being. Common issues include:


1. Incontinence: Weakness or dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles can lead to urinary or fecal incontinence, affecting bladder and bowel control.


2. Pelvic Pain: Dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles can result in chronic pelvic pain, discomfort during intercourse, or pain in the lower back or hips.


3. Postural Instability: Poor core and pelvic floor coordination can contribute to postural imbalances, leading to back pain, hip pain, or gait abnormalities.


How PT Can Help:


Physical therapy plays a crucial role in addressing core and pelvic floor dysfunction and restoring optimal function. A skilled therapist can assess your movement patterns, muscle strength, and coordination and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs. Techniques may include:


1. Core Strengthening Exercises: Targeted exercises to strengthen the abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles to improve stability and support.


2. Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation: Techniques such as pelvic floor muscle training, biofeedback, and manual therapy to address pelvic floor dysfunction and improve bladder and bowel control.


3. Postural Correction: Education and exercises to promote proper alignment and posture, reducing strain on the core and pelvic floor muscles.


The core and pelvic floor are integral components of a healthy, functional body, yet they are often overlooked in traditional exercise programs. If you're experiencing issues such as incontinence, pelvic pain, or postural instability, consider seeking guidance from a physical therapist at Nashville PT. Together, you can unlock the potential of your core and pelvic floor muscles for improved function, reduced pain, and enhanced quality of life.



References:


- Bo, K., Frawley, H. C., Haylen, B. T., & Abramov, Y. (2017). A standardized ultrasound protocol for the objectively diagnosed measurement of abdominal muscle recruitment. International Urogynecology Journal, 28(5), 743–752. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-016-3211-x

- Lee, D. G., Lee, L. J., & McLaughlin, L. (2008). Stability, continence and breathing: The role of fascia following pregnancy and delivery. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 12(4), 333–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.04.012

- Sapsford, R., & Hodges, P. W. (2001). Contraction of the pelvic floor muscles during abdominal maneuvers. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 82(8), 1081–1088. https://doi.org/10.1053/apmr.2001.24279

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