The pelvic floor is the basket of muscles and fascia that sits at the base of your pelvis, which stretches front to back the pubic bone to your tailbone, and side to side to your sitz bone. Essentially this “holds everything together” and without the these muscles you wouldn’t be able to pee, have babies, or have orgasms.
Throughout a woman’s lifetime she may experience pelvic floor dysfunction, with the most common symptom being urinary incontinence, which is an involuntary leakage of urine due to weak pelvic foundation. I think we are conditioned as woman that weakening, bladder dysfunction, and pelvic discomfort as we age is normal. It is not normal and there are things that can be done to be comfortable as we age. In addition to urinary incontinence there are other pelvic floor problems that can manifest, dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), lower back pain, and even pelvic organ prolapse. Especially regarding woman’s health, you need to be proactive and one step ahead to ensure these issues don’t arise, which is highly possible due to the natural aging process.
You must strengthen the foundation first and foremost. This goes for the majority of your tissue types, and understanding a base level of interconnections between every tissue in your body is important.
Good news, there is actually quite a few preventative methods that can encourage a healthy pelvic floor. Every woman at any age can benefits from these guidelines, even if they’re asymptomatic. Although these seem simple overtime this can add up to make a big difference:
Often overlooked, but so important. Being proactive about posture is vital to overall health. It’s the core pillar to physical health by ensuring that your body is able to take on daily tasks with more energy, while keeping away fatigue. Poor posture is less resistant to the strains and stresses we experience over the months, years and decades of our life. When sitting or standing for long hours our posture can be working for us or against us. Therefore, it’s important to consider alignment of our spine and pelvis during these times. When we are constantly slumped our muscle floor activity can weaken as we age.
- GENERAL FUNDAMENTAL STRENGTH
Hip mechanics, tightness and coordination through your hips and lower abdomen have connections to regions of the pelvic floor. General strength needs to be achieved through engagement and an intermediate level of strength in these regions. If your pelvic floor needs strengthening developing a foundation of strength can be beneficial. This can be achieved by specific exercises, squat, glute bridge, deadlift exercises done consistently. Remember to consciously engage the muscles through proper posterior pelvic tilt positioning, lower core and glute engagement.
- ANTI INFLAMMATORY FOODS/DIET
One important, but often overlooked contributor to inflammation and pain is food. While no foods can fix or prevent PFD or pelvic pain, eating to nourish and support pelvic floor health definitely encourages it. Making dietary changes can have a significant impact on inflammation, which drives pain. Pelvic floor, surrounding tissue, and smooth muscle (bladder) are prone to irritability. When you have chronic inflammation your immune system gets stuck on high alert, and although you may not feel continuous pain it continues to attack in places that are vulnerable which triggers irritability. There are specific foods that increase inflammation – high sugar, processed carbohydrates, and dairy. Focusing on reducing these foods can decrease inflammation throughout your entire body. Focusing on a balanced nutritional intake with low anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease pain; fish, nuts, leafy greens, and whole grains.
More specifically, don’t allow your body to reach dehydration. Dehydration makes more concentrated urine which aggravates the bladder, and creates muscle spasms. This happening consistently can lead to weakening our entire pelvic floor over a prolonged period of time.
- SUPPLEMENTATION GEARED TOWARDS MUSCLE AND NERVE FUNCTION
Magnesium is important for many processes in the body, with the primary function being to keep muscles and nerves healthy. Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in muscle relaxation. It has significant calming properties, so when a nerve is being over stimulated, magnesium can actually calm it down. When you have a weak pelvic floor your bladder contracts without you giving it permission to do so, resulting in urinary incontinence (bladder leakage). Due to it’s relaxing effect, it may be used to ease pelvic tightness, which occurs in both skeletal muscle and smooth muscle (such as the bladder). Subsequent that with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Omega 3 fatty acids contain properties counteract inflammation, improving pain and irritation. Vitamin D affects skeletal muscle strength and function. Low Vitamin D has been associated with bone and muscle weakness. As woman age we are more prone to Vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to cause pelvic floor muscle or skeletal weakness.
- LIMIT COFFEE & CAFFEINE
Coffee does have benefits if consumed in moderation and within a specific window. But it’s important to understand that coffee/caffeine is more than just a beverage. Coffee is a stimulant, which means it can have a negative chemical affect on your body if consumed to much. Coffee is also a diuretic causing you to pee more than you should triggering urinary frequency, and results in pelvic floor irritation.
- LIMIT REFINED SUGAR
Excess sugar leads to inflammation, period. That is a scientific fact. Severe inflammation results in the weakening of your entire pelvic floor which can lead to decreased function of your surrounding organs & tissue. Refer back to anti-inflammatory diet/foods.
These are general guidelines and solely for preventative education on pelvic floor. Severe incontinence, & confirmed diagnosis of PFD should seek professional help and specialist in treating pelvic floor conditions.