As a pelvic PT, I love the increasing attention the pelvic floor has received in the past few years. You may have noticed it too, but it could leave you wondering: what is your pelvic floor? The pelvic floor is an amazing (IMO) network of muscles, ligaments, and nerves located within our pelvic bones. Simplifying its roles isn’t easy and trying to explain everything the pelvic floor contributes to in one little blog post is like trying to explain how the last 2 years unfolded in one 20 minute TED talk. So I’m going to use a tried and true mnemonic to summarize the many functions of the pelvic floor: The 5 S’s.
The pelvic floor can be seen as a base for our spine, but also the shock absorber for our LEs. It’s like both the roof of a house and the foundation, based on which direction you’re looking at! Physical therapists consider its contribution when looking at gait, posture, breathing mechanics, and much more.
Well, there’s a funny-sounding word! Included among the many muscles of the pelvic floor are circular muscles called sphincters. When functioning appropriately, they are the valves for our bladder and colon. You want them relaxed, or “off”, on the toilet so you can do your business, but “on” when you’re walking through Target! If that’s not how it’s going in your neck of the woods, physical therapy can help decipher where the disconnect is!
Our pelvic floor muscles rest in our pelvis in a way that forms a bowl, or hammock. Resting on that hammock are several of our pelvic organs. If something causes the hammock to sag, a prolapse can occur. Physical therapists can assist in prolapse management.
The Salt-N-Pepa song always gets stuck in my head when this conversation comes up! The pelvic floor aides in arousal, erection, and orgasm for both the clitoris and penis. Many sexual dysfunctions for men and women can be addressed with physical therapy. So for a good time, the number you need to be calling is your therapist’s clinic! (this is a joke)
Eww, what? The last S sounds gross to say, but is yet another important function that keeps us going. When the pelvic floor muscles contract and relax, it helps move lymphatics and blood between our lower extremities and abdomen.