The Anatomy of a Strong Pelvic Floor: It’s Not Just About One Muscle

By Isa Herrera, MSPT

stop leaking with these 5 simple steps

Many women come to me with a giant misunderstanding about what the pelvic floor actually is. 

They know that they have pain, prolapse, or trouble with involuntarily leaking pee when they cough or jump on the trampoline.

And they’ve heard that the “pelvic floor” is the part of their body they need to work on in order to make it stop.

Honestly, I don’t think you necessarily need to be an expert in the anatomy of the pelvic floor in order to start healing yourself and begin feeling better down there. 

But I do think it’s important to understand the basics of the pelvic floor and how things go wrong in that region. 

Because when you know how your body works, you’re able to prevent things from getting out of hand again…and nowhere else will you find this kind of education about the female anatomy.

So, let’s talk about the pelvic floor, what it is, and how to care for it — properly. 

What Is The Pelvic Floor?

They never taught us about the pelvic floor in Anatomy and Physiology 101, did they? They skated right over most topics that had to do with “down there” and just kept right on going. 

Which is why I’m taking things back to basics today.

First, we have to understand what the pelvic floor is. 

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that supports all of the organs inside of your pelvis. This includes your bladder, vagina, bowel, and uterus.

The pelvic floor is kind of like a hammock that stretches from your spine to your pubic bone. (1,2,3,4)

A lot of people seem to think the pelvic floor is just one muscle stretching from one side of the body to the other. But it’s so much more than that.

What Is Fascia?
ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS - Fascia Kegels to heal your pelvic floor

Fascia is an often overlooked and misunderstood part of the body.

There are different types of fascia. Some fascia is the connective tissue that lies just underneath the skin, almost like a second layer of skin. 

Other types of fascia encapsulate muscles and organs and help to hold your internal body in place. Fascia stabilizes and surrounds tendons, ligaments, and even blood vessels. (5-9)

Fascia is an enormous part of your body and plays a huge role in the health of your pelvic floor.

Why?

Because each fiber of the muscles in your pelvic floor is surrounded by fascia! 

Fascia is supposed to be quite flexible. 

But it can become brittle, scarred or even damaged.

Fascia can become damaged by inflammation, injury, or repetitive movements. And that’s when scar tissue forms. This is a source of pelvic pain for many women.

Here’s the thing about fascia — the only way to truly strengthen and stretch and improve your pelvic floor muscles is to also strengthen and stretch and improve your fascia because one cannot exist without the other.

Kegels are a fantastic way to exercise both your muscles and your fascia.

Weak Pelvic Floor And Bladder Problems


Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS get off the pantyliners with safe pelvic floor programs

The hammock of muscles and fascia that forms your pelvic floor has a couple of strategically located holes in it. 

Your vagina, your urethra (the duct that transports urine out of your body), and your anus (the opening of the bowel that transports solid waste out of your body) all pass through the pelvic floor. 

Each of these structures is a tube that punctures the pelvic floor. Think of each like a flexible straw passing through the lid of an iced coffee cup.

When your pelvic floor is in great condition, the lid of the coffee cup is taut and the straw passes through with no problems. 

But when your pelvic floor is compromised, the lid becomes more like jello and the straw doesn’t have the same support. 

Now the straw is wobbly and is more like a cooked noodle, finding it hard to stay up straight. That’s when urine and feces leak through the pelvic floor. 

How Does Your Core Strength Affect Your Pelvic Floor?


Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS get off the pantyliners with safe pelvic floor programs

Here’s another part of the pelvic floor equation that often gets left out of the equation. 

Your core.

Your core is the set of muscles between the pelvic floor and your diaphragm. (10,11,12) And if you can strengthen and tone these muscles, your pelvic floor muscles will also benefit. (13)

The problem is, when most people think about strengthening their core, they immediately lie flat on their backs and start doing sit-ups or crunches. 

But these types of exercises can actually do more harm than good — they can damage the integrity of your pelvic floor.

You’ve got to exercise your deep core muscles without also putting downward pressure on your abdominal cavity. There’s a specific and certain way to do that, which I teach in my V-Core Lift program. 

What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

1janPelvic organ prolapse is a condition that results when the pelvic floor muscles are weakened and they cannot support the weight of the organs that they are supposed to be holding up. (14)

When this happens, the organ falls down onto the pelvic floor. Since the pelvic floor is weak, it collapses under the pressure of the weight of the organ.

Think again of your pelvic floor as a hammock. 

Now imagine one of the ties to the hammock comes loose and it’s barely hanging on to one of the trees it was tied to. Instead of being taut and tight, it’s now floppy and floating in the breeze. 

What do you think would happen if you tried to lay on that hammock? You’d crash down to the ground, right? That’s what happens in pelvic organ prolapse. 

What Causes Pelvic Floor Problems?

The causes of pelvic floor problems are many and varied, but some of the most common include (15,16):

  • Childbirth 
  • Repeatedly straining your pelvic floor by lifting heavy objects improperly, coughing a lot, or pushing while relieving your bowel or bladder
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Poor posture
  • Hormone changes like those in perimenopause and menopause
  • Trauma from sexual assault

How Do I Strengthen My Pelvic Floor and Regain My Bladder Control?

2023q3 v3 freedom week isa v core

The great news is that no matter how you’ve come to need pelvic floor self-care, it’s simple to strengthen and tone your entire pelvic floor at home in just a few minutes a day.

In my V-Core Lift Kegel Complete Program, I’ll show you exactly how to go from a weak and wobbly pelvic floor and core to a strong, toned, and tight V…plus, we’ll create that leak-free lifestyle for you too. So you can sneeze or cough without any fear. 

This program will teach you how to do the *perfect* Kegel and whip your fascia, muscles, and core into shape.

Click here to learn more about the V-Core Lift Kegel Complete.

References

  1. “Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Pelvic Floor – StatPearls – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482200/. 
  2. “PELVIC FLOOR ANATOMY AND APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2617789/. 
  3. “Pelvic floor anatomy and imaging – ScienceDirect.com.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043148915000986. 
  4. “Functional Anatomy of the Female Pelvic Floor.” https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/72597/annals.1389.034.pdf?sequence=1. 
  5. “Anatomy, Fascia Layers – PubMed.” 25 Jul. 2022, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30252294/. Accessed 27 Jun. 2023.
  6. “Fascia: a morphological description and classification system based ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3430451/. 
  7. “Anatomy, Fascia Layers – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 25 Jul. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526038/.
  8. “Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb: Pelvic Fascia – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518984/.
  9. “[PDF] The Female Pelvic Floor Fascia Anatomy – Semantic Scholar.” 30 Aug. 2021, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Female-Pelvic-Floor-Fascia-Anatomy%3A-A-Search-Roch-Gaudreault/077a13294d6922428db7fd0ef69e2827bf1b855b.
  10. “Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Rectus Sheath – StatPearls – NCBI.” 25 Jul. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537153/.
  11. “Anatomy, Anterolateral Abdominal Wall Muscles Article – StatPearls.” 25 Jul. 2022, https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/32105. 
  12. “Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis: Abdominal Wall – StatPearls – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551649/. 
  13. “The Effects of Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercise Combined with Core ….” 5 Sep. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9467742/. 
  14. “Pelvic Organ Prolapse Article – StatPearls.” 3 Oct. 2022, https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/26869.
  15. “Pelvic Floor Dysfunction – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 3 May. 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559246/. 
  16. “Pelvic Floor Dysfunction – StatPearls.” 3 May. 2023, https://www.statpearls.com/point-of-care/40639.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of PPR Associates Inc, or Rootganic, Inc.

About ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS

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