If I asked you to locate your pelvic floor muscles, what are the chances of you getting it right? Most people forget or undervalue the importance of their pelvic floor muscles. You usually learn about your pelvic floor when there’s a problem during pregnancy, postpartum, or as you grow older.
While there’s tons of information online about pelvic floor muscles, there are many myths and taboos as well, and they might scare you.
But the good news is that you don’t need to become an expert to understand the importance of these often unknown muscles.
When your pelvic muscles don’t work right, it’s not normal. Don’t accept it as something that happens with age or postpartum.
I’ve clarified 16 common myths and taboos about the pelvic floor muscles so you can escape your discomfort zone:
1. Only pregnant women or new moms suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction
Not true! Pelvic floor dysfunction also occurs in women who don’t have children, such as athletes, obese women, and women during their menopause. And finally, like any muscle in the body, it also becomes weaker with age.
2. Leakage is normal after childbirth, as you age, or with high-intensity physical activity
No! Leaking isn’t normal. It is common, but not normal. If you leak during a workout or when you sneeze or cough, it means that your pelvic floor muscles fail to seal the entrance completely. Don’t accept this as your new normal and seek help immediately.
Bladder leakage occurs when a force from above, such as Coughing, sneezing, running, or jumping, puts too much pressure on the bladder.
For example, when you jump or run, this causes enormous pressure on your abdominal wall (Diaphragm).
The PF muscles should respond by providing a tight, sturdy closure around the base of the bladder.
If the PF muscles are not strong enough or can’t “turn on,” the urine will leak out.
Do you understand now how important it is to do pelvic floor exercises?
3. Pelvic floor dysfunction has nothing to do with your alignment
False! The way you stack up directly affects your PF muscle, abdominal muscles, and the rest of your body.
It is impossible to heal and strengthen your PF muscles if you are anatomically in the incorrect position while doing your exercises.
Your posture (Alignment) is one of the most important things to be aware of in your daily routine.
The first step to improving your Alignment (posture) is to learn how to move your pelvis. The spine attaches to the pelvis. The pelvis positioning directly affects you down to your ankles and up to your shoulders, plus much more.
The second step to improving your Alignment (posture) is to be aware of your daily movements, such as how you bend over, sit, stand, etc.
An effortless way to learn how to move your pelvis is by doing pelvic clock exercises.
4. Postpartum alignment habits
Poor posture habits usually begin during pregnancy. Most of the weight you gain is in front of your body.
As the baby begins to grow inside you, your diaphragm and abdominal wall are pushed and stretched to the max to make room for the baby. Your body compensates by tilting your low back to make more room for the baby.
I’ve seen many postpartum women walk around like they are still pregnant. Unfortunately, they are still holding onto pregnancy alignment habits.
5. Pelvic floor exercises don’t work.
Pilates or Kegel exercises can support the rebuilding of abdominal strength and stability. It can also improve your posture, heal diastasis recti, and find the balance for mamas who experience pain in standing and pubic separation.
A common mistake women make during pelvic floor exercises is breathing incorrectly.
The proper breathing technique is crucial in activating and strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor.
The second mistake women make during pelvic floor exercises is over gripping the pelvic floor.
Try to lift both sides of the pelvic floor gently. Visualizing the PF muscles and relaxing your mind will help you easily connect to your muscles easier.
6. Pelvic floor exercises are rough and intense
There are many reasons why people cannot exercise regularly, such as being very elderly, being obese, having back, hip, or other joint problems, or suffering from chronic health conditions, etc. The good news is that pelvic floor exercises are gentle, and you can do them while standing, sitting, or even lying in bed.
You don’t need any special equipment, clothing, or even sports shoes, and you can easily add them to your daily routine.
7. Men don’t have a pelvic floor.
Wrong! Perhaps because of the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on pelvic floor muscles, some people think that only women have one.
Both men and women have the muscle; it’s attached to the tail bone at the back and the pubic bone at the front.
In both genders, it supports the bladder and urethra. In women, it also supports the cervix and vagina.
8. Pelvic floor muscles cannot stretch
Wrong! PF muscles form a wide sling-like hammock, starting from all around the fan-shaped pelvic bone and connecting to the pelvic organs.
Pregnancy, obesity and high impact sports can cause the pelvic floor muscles to stretch due to the increased weight and downward pressure above them.
Did you know that you can avoid leakage with 10 minutes of daily exercise?
Click here to see a pelvic floor anatomy video to understand what your pelvic floor muscles look like.
9. Your pelvic floor muscles will snap back after delivery.
WRONG! Many women have weaker PF muscles from the strain of carrying around excess weight for nine months and the trauma caused by childbirth.
Prolonged pushing during labor and delivery, such as pushing for longer than two and a half hours, tearing the pelvic floor during childbirth, and delivering a large baby, are all factors that can lead to weak pelvic floor muscles and prolapse.
Your muscles don’t always “snap back,” and you may need to see a pelvic floor therapist along with pelvic floor exercises.
10. Running & crossfit will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Unfortunately, high impact sports and physical activity can lead to pressure on the pelvic floor, which can weaken it with time.
The most common culprits are wrong breathing patterns or holding you breathe, leading to extra-abdominal pressure.
Remember, the pressure from above (diaphragm) will push down on your organs causing leakage. The best solution is to take a break from high impact sports temporarily and focus on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and posture!
11. Picking up your toddlers is a breeze
Most busy moms wouldn’t think twice about lifting their toddlers “the right way.”
The most common mistake is holding your breath as you bend over to pick up your toddler; this includes exercise or other heavy items.
When you hold your breath, the diaphragm pushes down into your abdomen. It then compresses the weight of your guts (organs) and PF muscles.
Practice using good form when bending over to pick up your kids. Avoid strenuous activities or exercises that place strain on your abdominal muscles or pelvic floor.
12. Kegel exercises are super easy to do
Wrong! Most women I train are unsure how to locate their pelvic floor muscles and correctly connect with their PF muscles.
The most critical component of Kegel exercises is that in addition to squeezing your PF muscles together, you draw the pelvic floor up simultaneously.
Avoid clenching your PF muscles or over gripping the PF muscles. A gentle lift of the pelvic floor with the correct breathing pattern is how you kegel correctly.
13. Good toilet habits are overrated
Did you know that most women push their urine out? Which can possibly lead to your pelvic floor muscles to spasm or tighten up?
Learning good toilet habits is key to having a strong pelvic floor, never rush yourself, or hold your breath when using the toilet.
By relaxing your mind and taking a couple of mindful breaths, the urine will come out naturally.
14. There’s nothing I can do about my C-section scar
False! There are specialized massage techniques that can help soften the scars and improve your gut health. Only licensed medical professionals, such as abdominal-pelvic floor physical therapists or an Arvigo Maya Abdominal Therapist, should perform such maneuvers. I have personally experienced the benefits of an Arvigo Maya Abdominal Massage by Mel.
15. Constipation is normal
The most common problem in both pregnant and postpartum women is not able to poop! Constipation can cause excess strain on the PF muscles and lead to weakness and leakage.
The easiest way to fix this is by:
- Eliminating foods that are hard to digest and add in more gut-friendly foods.
- Increasing your water intake will help keep your bowels soft and moving smoothly through your digestive tract.
- Don’t chow down your food! Chew slowly and take the time to breakdown the food with your teeth. By taking the time to breakdown your food, less work on your digestive system.
- Exercise stimulates your bowels.
- Try self-massaging your stomach for constipation relief.
I also recommend investing in a squatty potty. I have used it myself, and it works!
16. A C-section is better for your pelvic floor muscles
You may think a cesarean would not affect your PF muscles, but abdominal surgery, no matter how small or large, will cause scar tissue, swelling, and a mild disruption to the organs in the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles.
Post-surgery the abdominal muscles will be swollen, and forget how to contract.
After you are cleared by your doctor for exercise, rehabbing your abdominal & PF muscles is a must to regain strength and control.
The pelvic floor workout exercises are simple and can be done in under 10 minutes per day.
Time to Pay Attention to Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
I hope you’ve learned something new from this article and clarified some of the myths and taboos.
Now, let’s talk about how you can improve the function of your PF muscles.