Learning about the Pelvic Floor – what is it and how to train it?

Written by: Matthew Koroneos
Published: April 28, 2022

At some stage or another, most people would have heard about the Pelvic Floor (PF). The purpose of this blog is to educate you more about its function and how we can correctly identify and train it.

Current research shows that PF muscle exercises are effective (with 84% cure rate) for most women with a diagnosis of urinary incontinence from having instrumental births or big babies, and/or for those with an overactive bladder.

What is it?

The PF is a layer of muscles which support the pelvic organs that lie on it. In women it supports the bladder, bowel and uterus (womb).

The PF muscles support the weight of the baby during pregnancy and assist with the birthing process by providing a firm yet elastic floor to allow the passage of the baby through the vagina.

Imagine the PF muscles as a round mini-trampoline, made of firm muscle. As with the mat of a trampoline, the PF has the potential to move down and up. The bladder, uterus and bowel lie on the pelvic floor muscle layer as mentioned earlier. Now imagine a hole in the trampoline for the passages to pass through. There are three passages in women (the urethra, vagina and anus). The PF muscles normally wrap quite firmly around the hole in the trampoline to keep the passages shut.

When might you see issues with your PF?

  • Pregnancy – They can get too loose and weak, especially with women because they have been stretched during childbirth.
  • High impact exercises – i.e. high impact sports such as basketball, netball or running increase chances of urinary incontinence.

How do you know if you have weak pelvic floor muscles?

  1. Accidentally leaking urine or faeces when coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting or exercising.
  2. Having to get to the toilet quickly.
  3. Difficulty controlling bowel movements and wind.
  4. Feeling like you haven’t fully emptied your bladder or bowel.

What can you do to strengthen it?

The PF can be consciously controlled and trained, much like the arm, leg or abdominal muscles. If your ‘do-it-yourself’ pelvic floor muscle exercise program didn’t work, then chances are the exercises weren’t done the right way. No one should notice that you are working on your muscles- stay relaxed.  Try the exercises below.

If you continue to experience issues, I would recommend seeing a trained health professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) or Physiotherapist who would be able to give you more specific tailored information about your PF.

Thank you for reading thus far and I hope you’ve learnt more about the PF. I am an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) and work across GP clinics and private practice in the north western suburbs as well as servicing semi/elite athlete teams.

You can find me on MK Movement on Facebook and Instagram for more content and info.

Please get in contact if you have any questions or would like to schedule a consult with our EP. Private health rebates may apply!