While taking care of one area of the body is usually directed at women, learning about it can benefit everyone.
That was part of the takeaway from one of the presentations made May 4 at the “Spring” into Wellness seminar hosted at Ponoka’s Vantage Physiotherapy Clinic.
Kelsey Moreau, a pelvic health specialist at the clinic, spoke about how important it is to maintain the health of the pelvic floor muscle group for both women and men.
“They are important for maintaining good operation of the bowels, urination and sexual function,” she said.
“This is a group of muscles that can become too tight, can be weak and become injured.”
Moreau added the the pelvic floor muscles are tied into the rest of the core muscle system, which is more than just the abdominal muscles.
“It can be equated to a piston. At the top is the diaphragm, the bottom is the pelvic floor with the abdominal wall at the front and the lumbar at the back. This whole system needs to work together,” she said.
Complicating matters though, Moreau explained, there are other layers of muscles that also support that core muscle group that also need to work together to provide stability for the pelvic floor.
“If you think about the piston, when we breathe there is an increase in pressure and the pelvic floor needs to lengthen and relive some of that,” she said.
“When we breathe out, the pelvic floor will recoil back up and the diaphragm goes back as well. That piston action happens every time we breathe to provide stability and for people to remain continent. If that doesn’t occur, it can set people up for injury, incontinence or prolapse issues.
“So, often we see an imbalance between the deep system and the outer system of ab muscles.”
Relating that imbalance to someone squeezing a balloon, Moreau stated the pressure moves from the middle to the top and bottom causing issues to start or become worse.
“The pelvic floor muscle can be thought of as a trampoline and it needs to be able to give a little,” she said.
“If it is too weak or too tight when the person is moving, lifting or running, it can actually cause incontinence because the muscles are not able to give with the increased abdominal pressure.”
Now, while tightness tends to happen to women who have had babies or are pregnant, Moreau noted it can occur in any athlete.
To correct the issue, it means lengthening the pelvic floor as opposed to squeezing and exercising the muscles along with ensuring people are using correct posture and alignment.
“The best way to start your core is done by adopting what is called the ski jump position, which will put the muscles in good alignment and begin to use them properly,” she added.
“Think of how a ski jumper looks as they fly through the air, that will help us find that neutral spine position.”
To get that, Moreau explained to lean the body forward as far as possible, then bring the body weight back over top in a straight line, that’s a great trick to find where neutral should be.
It can be done anytime, anywhere and it will help with improved breathing, better muscle control and protect the back and hips from pain and injury.
For further information or questions, head to www.vantagephysio.com.