Have you had or do you plan to have a baby? Do you pee when you cough or sneeze? Have you experienced discomfort during intercourse? Do you have lower back/hip/groin pain? If you answered yes to any of these questions – read on – we are here to educate you about the pelvic floor and why it’s important. We think many women fit into one or more of these categories, but statistics show that a very small percentage of women know what a pelvic floor is, why it’s important, and how to keep yours healthy!
On April 18, nationally known yoga instructor Leslie Howard will offer a one-day Yoga for the Pelvic Floor Workshop as part of a four-day Yoga for the Pelvic Floor Teacher Training in Richmond through OmMama, LLC. A portion of the proceeds from these events will be donated to Nurture.
The term “pelvic floor” refers to a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that form the base of operations at the bottom of our torso. As Howard says, “Think of your torso as a ‘tote bag’ for your organs. The pelvic floor is the bottom of the tote bag.”
The pelvic floor connects to the pelvis via the pubic bone at the front, the tailbone at the rear, and the two “sit bones” at each side, forming a boat-shaped muscular hammock that supports pelvic organs including the uterus, bladder and rectum. The pelvic floor has three openings that allow for the passage of pee (the urethra), poo (the anus), and babies (the vagina).
The first time many women become aware of their pelvic floor is when they become pregnant. A woman’s pelvic floor experiences increased pressure during pregnancy as the baby grows in size and weight, leading to the well-known effect of frequent trips to the ladies room (urge incontinence) and on occasion, the loss of pee when you’re coughing, sneezing, running, or just plain getting around (stress incontinence).
Women are also naturally concerned about their ability to stretch and avoid tearing during birth. Having strong, pliable pelvic floor muscles helps a woman’s body more easily stretch around the baby’s head when it crowns. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles appropriately also helps you tone more effectively after delivery, helps prevent urge and stress incontinence, and provides proper support for your internal organs.
The pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscle in the body – they work best when strength is balanced with flexibility. While most women need to focus on strengthening the pelvic floor, especially during pregnancy, some women may have too much tone. This can contribute to pelvic pain and may increase the risk of tearing during birth.
Here’s a video that beautifully details the major structures of the pelvic floor – and one (with Leslie Howard) showing how to assess your pelvic floor to figure out if the muscles are too tight, too loose, or a combination of both.
Howard refers to the pelvic floor as the “the root of all things.” Up to 50 percent of women will experience incontinence during their lifetime. Proper strengthening and stabilizing of the pelvic floor helps to create the correct foundation of each movement in the body, thus preventing or minimizing various forms of incontinence, prolapsed (sagging) organs, and hip, groin, or lower back discomfort.
Consider taking a day to learn about this essential part of your anatomy with Leslie Howard during her only visit to the East Coast this year. Yoga and fitness professionals and women’s health care providers will benefit from the four-day Yoga for the Pelvic Floor Teacher Training.