The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that are located on the bottom of our pelvis. These muscles go from our pubic bone in the front to our tail bone in the back and they span side to side across our sit bones. One of the main functions of the pelvic floor muscles is to prevent bladder and/or bowel leakage, so it is important that they are working properly and are strong. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, neighboring muscles such as the gluts or inner thigh muscles, will try to “help” it by contracting at the same time.
Use these top five tips to lean how to better isolate the pelvic floor muscles:
1. Stop Urine Test
When urinating, attempt to stop the flow of urine. If you can stop it or at least deflect or slow down the stream, you have found the pelvic floor muscles. If nothing happens, your muscles are severely weak or you have not found them. DO NOT use this an exercise, only perform this test 1-2 times
- Make a mental map of the body, locate the tailbone and pubic bone. Imagine a sling or hammock suspended between the 2 areas. When you contract the pelvic floor, that sling pulls up and into the body.
- Imagine a straw with liquid in it. This is like the urethra, the tube that goes from the bladder out of the body. Imagine your fingers pinching this straw so the liquid cannot escape. This is what your pelvic floor muscles do to the urethra when they contract.
- Imagine a smooth, round marble sitting at your vagina or anus. Use the pelvic floor muscles to pull the marble inside you. When you relax, the marble rolls out of the body.
- Image using your pelvic floor muscles to tuck in your tailbone
3. Watch Your Body
If you can see yourself do the pelvic floor contraction, you are not doing it right! The pelvic floor muscles are inside, so when you contract them, there should be no movement on the outside.
Look at your stomach. Do you see normal rhythmic breathing or do you see the abdominal muscles tightening with each attempt at a pelvic floor contraction?
When laying down or sitting, do you “rise” up an inch or two because you are tightening your glutes? Do your knees roll in because you are using the inner thigh muscles?
4. Use A Mirror
Isolate your pelvic floor while looking at your pelvic area with a hand held mirror. When you are tightening the pelvic floor, you should see the vagina and anus move up and away from the mirror. Men will see the scrotum pull in as well. If you see things “open up” and move downward towards the mirror, you are doing the exercises incorrectly. You are pushing out instead of pulling in. You could be stretching these weakened muscles even more.
5. Feel The Muscle
Insert a clean finger into your vagina. When you contract the pelvic floor, you should feel a circulator tightening around your finger. You may also bend your finger to either side and feel the muscle belly as you contract. One side may feel stronger than the other, this is not uncommon. During sexual intercourse you can attempt contractions. Your partner should feel the same circular tightening as you did around your finger.
Try these tips out to see if you are able to isolate your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles perform a vital function and provide a lot of stability to your body. If you are unsure if you are doing these exercises correctly, reach out to us and we can work with you! Call to schedule a discovery visit to talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist!