Potential Issues: Pelvic Floor


Pelvic floor issues may include:

  1. Weak pelvic floor muscles
  2. Tight pelvic floor muscles
  3. Pelvic floor muscles overpowered by other muscles

Potential Causes of Pelvic Floor Weakness

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Chronic constipation
  • Aging
  • Menopause
  • Surgery
  • Factors that raise intra-abdominal pressure

Factors that raise intra-abdominal pressure include:

  • Chronic coughing
  • Heavy lifting
  • High impact exercise
  • Being overweight or obese

Potential Causes of Pelvic Floor Tightness

More Potential Causes of Issues

Other habits, practices and factors that can cause issues include:

  1. Constantly tucking the coccyx (tailbone).
  2. Practicing Kegels when pelvic floor muscles are tight.
  3. Practicing exercises that induce muscular imbalance, particularly those that develop overly strong abdominals in relationship to a weak pelvic floor.
  4. Issues in recruiting pelvic floor muscles can occur as a result of regular straining with bowel movements, constant coughing, pregnancy weight, childbirth, infection, pain, poor movement patterns, trauma and surgery.

Can’t Lift, Can’t Relax, or are Overpowered

The pelvic floor muscles cause problems when they are: weak and not strong enough to lift when you run or sneeze; tight and cannot relax; overpowered by excessive tightness in trunk and waist muscles. – Pelvic Floor & Core Works

Habits That Don’t Allow Pelvic Floor to Release

Untucking the tailbone opens the pelvic outlet, tucking it closes it — tightening the pelvic floor. The dog with his tail down between his legs is an equivalent of you sitting on your sacrum, the back supported by a chair or a couch. If you spend multiple hours a day in this position, your pelvic floor doesn’t really have a chance to release and allow the muscle fibers to regain their natural length at resting state. So gradually it shortens. – Ivanna Demmel

Kegels May Not Resolve Weakness

A Kegel is a muscular contraction. For women who have a tight pelvic floor, concentrically contracting the muscles regularly will simply aggravate the tension issue. Muscle that is either too long or too short looks the same when you measure its force production. Which means just because something is weak or unable to do a bout of work does not automatically imply that concentric contraction is the correct prescription. – Katy Bowman

More on Limitation of Kegels

Kegel muscles mainly strengthen the muscle that “cuts off” the flow of urine, the puborectalis. They do not strengthen the backward acting muscles and ligaments which control other symptoms such as pain, urgency, nocturis, bowel and bladder emptying. – Peter Petros

Kegels Can Over-Tighten, Leading to Weakness, Not Strength

The longtime runner and yoga and Pilates teacher was shocked [to learn]… her pelvic floor muscles were so weak she had developed pelvic organ prolapse… she’d spent years working her abs and religiously did Kegels to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles — part of the larger group of muscles we refer to as the “core.” How were these muscles not strong enough to do something as basic as keep her organs in place? Treacy’s doc had a surprising answer: She’d actually been overworking her pelvic floor, causing an overtightening that led to weakness, not strength. “Think about what a tight muscle looks like,” says Treacy. “It lives in a shortened, contracted state, and because it’s not pliable, it’s actually not as strong as it could be.” – Meaghan Rabbitt

Abdominal Muscle Strength Exceeds Pelvic Floor Ability

Your abdominal muscle strength may exceed the ability of your pelvic floor.  If you have or are at risk of pelvic floor problems, then it is important you train for the ‘weakest link’ and put your pelvic floor first.  There are a number of ways to modify your core exercises to protect your pelvic floor. Cease strong abdominal exercises… [and practice] pelvic floor safe core exercises. – Pelvic Floor First

Tight Inner Thigh Muscles

Tight muscles in the inner thighs can also contribute to pelvic floor issues. – Lynn Shattuck, Huffington Post