Claire Bourne, Specialist Women's & Men's Health Physiotherapist at Six Physio, on the most common misconceptions about the pelvic floor muscles...
Pelvic floor myths: pelvic floor muscles are of the most misunderstood muscle groups in the body. Maybe a few of these questions sound familiar… Where are they? What do they actually do? Why are they so important? Surely they are only important if I am pregnant or postnatal? If I do some squeezes that’s ok right?
Pelvic floor health is one of the most important things a woman can think about throughout her life, so I am going to help bust some myths and common misconceptions to help encourage you all on your pelvic floor journey.
Myth 1: Pelvic floor excercises are for pregnancy and postnatal
Pelvic floor is for life, not just pregnancy and post birth. Like any muscle, if we don’t use it and strengthen it, it weakens. Also the pelvic floor is not only responsible for urinary incontinence, which gets the most profile before and after childbirth. Other symptoms that might relate to your pelvic floor include: pain during sex, needing to pass urine frequently or urgently and constipation.
Myth 2: Urinary leakage after birth is normal and should be ignored
Despite what the recent Tena Lady adverts suggest, urinary leakage is not normal and should not be accepted as a new norm. It is common, and many women do experience urinary incontinence after birth, however there is a lot that can be done. Women’s Health Physiotherapists are trained in helping women recover postnatally, especially with pelvic floor training which is the first line treatment for urinary continence in the UK, as started in recent NICE Guidelines.
Myth 3: The focus of pelvic floor excercises should be on squeezing only
Pelvic floor exercises are often described as ‘oh when you squeeze down there’, which is essentially not wrong, however it is not all about squeezing (or contracting as physios like to call it). The relaxation of a muscle is as important as the contraction and lots of women struggle to let go of their pelvic floor, allowing it to fully relax. When we are stressed, not breathing deeply or relaxing means our pelvic floor natually sits quite tight. So before starting your squeeze, try and take a deep breath in and see if you can feel your pelvic floor relaxing – it is as important as the squeeze.