Tracey L. Kelley
Fun With Anatomy: The Pelvic Floor
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Both women and men have reason to shore up their pelvic floors. This area has nerves, ligaments, and muscles that form a sling to hold your organs in place. If this sling starts to sag, you may experience problems with continence, intercourse (mostly women), frequent urination, pain in the pelvic area, or a prolapse.
How does the pelvic floor lose its support? Many reasons, including bad posture, a history of back pain, excessive or asymmetrical sitting (always crossing the same leg, for example), certain sports, improper weight-lifting form, pregnancy, weight gain, and aging. Fortunately, certain exercises and yoga poses can help you retain some strength in this area.
However, it's not all about strengthening. Leslie Howard is an instructor who specializes in yoga for the pelvic floor, and she says we have to learn to relax this area properly, too. So one pose she suggests is Chair, because you'll stretch the floor as you move into the pose, and lift it as you come back up. Just make sure you don't drop your hips lower than your knees. Howard also recommends Warrior II with grounded heels and strong legs in order to lift the perineum, the area between the thighs just in front of the anus. For both men and women, lifting this area provides internal structure that's especially important for bladder control. Releasing the tailbone in Happy Baby is helpful as well, especially if you keep your back straight or use a pillow under your head for support. And key poses that require you to tighten your glutes, such as Locust Pose, help counter-balance the pelvic floor. There are a number of mini-exercises you can do throughout the day to help train the pelvic muscles. One popular exercise is the famous Kegel, but it's important to know exactly which muscles to engage. Learn more from the Mayo Clinic, Both men and women can learn additional techniques specific to their anatomy through the helpful site Pelvic Floor First.