What are the with pelvic floor muscles?
Pelvic muscles are muscles located at the base of your core and support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. They stretch like a trampoline or hammock from the pubic bone back to the tailbone and hold your vital organs, mentioned, in place. When contracted, pelvic muscles tighten and lift the surrounding organs--preventing urination, bowel movements, and gas. When one is holding a full or semi-full bladder, these are the muscles that are used to keep from urinating. When these muscles relax, you are able to urinate or have a bowel movement. These muscles also play a role in sexual pleasure and the birthing process.
How can pelvic floor therapy help weakened muscles?
Pelvic floor therapy is a type of therapy used to either make sure that these muscles are kept in good shape, ensuring these processes are smooth, comfortable and/or pleasurable, or as a means of trying to target, strengthen or repair these muscles due to weakening. One can make sure that you are keeping your pelvic floor strong and healthy through pelvic floor therapy done by practicing at home, or with a pelvic floor PT.
What are the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor?
People with symptoms may experience:
- Constipation, straining or pain during bowel movements.
- A frequent need to urinate.
- A heavy feeling in the pelvis or a bulge in the rectum.
- Painful intercourse for women.
How can I use pelvic floor therapy to manage my weak pelvic floor?
Besides daily symptom management tools, such as pads and liners to keep from leaking onto clothing, pelvic floor therapy can manage symptoms of a weak pelvic floor by increasing control over the pelvic muscles. It is important to note that increasing control is key, and that solely strengthening the muscles can be detrimental to weak pelvic floor management. That is to say, it is critical that one practices exercises to relax these muscles as well to exercise proper muscle control. Counterintuitively, for some, solely strengthening the muscles without relaxation can actually perpetuate symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, due to the constant strain and pressure put on the muscles
For ideal symptom management, try combining pelvic floor therapy exercises with UI products.
One of the easiest pelvic floor therapy exercises to do at home is known as “the kegel.” Kegels can be done anywhere, sitting, standing, or laying down—and no one will notice. Contract and tighten your muscles for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds. Make sure you are pulling up, not pushing down. Remember to breathe. Repeat this 10 times in a row, 3-5 times a day to begin your journey managing a weak pelvic floor. These exercises can easily be combined with UI products to best manage symptoms.
Which UI products should I use on my pelvic floor strengthening journey?
Products such as pads, liners, and briefs are excellent at managing chronic symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder, such as bladder leaks. If this is a symptom you are managing and you are looking to figure out what product might be best for you - This quiz and this product guide may help.
While the answer is not a one-size-fits-all, it is recommended to start with heavy pads and transition to lighter pads as your muscles strengthen throughout pelvic floor therapy. For those managing heavier leaks, check out heavy pads and briefs for UI leakage. As one progresses through your pelvic floor therapy, one may consider transitioning from heavy pads to moderate pads, and eventually to panty liners and pads for light leaks.
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