Pelvic Floor: The Foundation to Overall Strength

If you’re working on strength training, you’re working on many sets of muscles. There is one key muscle group that most women don’t include in their training program, unaware that its functionality is vital to your overall strength.

Meet the muscles of the pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor muscles form the base of the group of muscles, commonly called the ‘core.’ These muscles work with the deep abdominal and back muscles and the diaphragm to support the spine and control the pressure inside the abdomen. The deep layer supports your organs, while the superficial and middle layers help control urine evacuation. 

When healthy, your body has good control over these muscles, but they are susceptible to change because of pregnancy, surgery, or the aging process. When your pelvic floor muscles aren’t firing right, you may have trouble with urine leakage under stress, as in the case of coughing, laughing, sneezing, or leakage with urgency. (If you’ve ever had to run for the bathroom as soon as you pull the car into the garage, you know what I mean.)

Your pelvic floor is also what helps you lift objects, tightening involuntarily when your brain sends a signal that you’re about to pick up something. If your pelvic floor muscles aren’t firing correctly, you will have trouble tightening other muscle groups, including your hips and lower back. It will be hard for you to make gains in strength training.

If your pelvic floor isn’t functioning properly, you may experience lower back pain, hip pain, and the control issues mentioned above. When these essential small muscles don’t contract as they should to help you lift, your large muscles are more at risk for sprains and strains.

I have worked with some very fit athletes whose pelvic floors were dysfunctional, commonly those who focus primarily on intense workouts and have strong abdomen muscles (gymnasts, dancers, CrossFit athletes, military members.) Focusing only on the abdominal core and not the pelvic floor can actually cause dysfunction. The analogy is squeezing a tube of toothpaste hard enough from the middle. Eventually, the pressure will blow the toothpaste out both ends. All these muscle groups are connected and must stay balanced to support you throughout your lifetime. 

Our pelvic floor muscles reflect our emotions as well. We carry a lot of stress in those muscles, so it’s possible that you’re firing them over and over during the day, making them tense and dysfunctional through overuse. Becoming aware of these muscles and learning to work your entire core effectively will help you become stronger, perform better, and control essential functions as you age.

The Good News

The good news is if you are experiencing symptoms of a dysfunctional pelvic floor, in most cases, they can be mitigated or even fixed entirely.  A physical therapist that specializes in women’s care can teach you exercises and techniques to strengthen these important muscles in the body. You don’t have to live with leaking, pain with sex, or worse, prolapse. Getting educated with what you need to know can increase your quality of life and unlock a whole new you.

To learn more about the pelvic floor and to book an evaluation, visit

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