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Can Your Pelvic Floor Be Too Strong?

pelvic floor women's health

Something you'll never hear - "Your biceps are too strong."  

This confused me for a long time about the pelvic floor -- you hear on one hand that you should strengthen it.   

Then, on the other hand, you hear about problems with a pelvic floor that's "too tight." 

I've experienced this firsthand.  Before having children, from my midwife, I heard that my pelvic floor is tight.  After having children, I had problems with a strong sneeze or a little jumping causing urine leakage.  Oh, so now it's weak.  Ugh.  

I'm thinking now that tension doesn't equal strength.  In fact, tension makes you vulnerable to weakness.  

Tight ⍯ Strong

You don't think about your pelvic floor until it starts mal-functioning.  When it's going according to plan, it holds everything up and in place.  We give it nary a thought to do so much work. 

Until it fails at that job - leaky bladder, organ prolapse, or pelvic floor pain.  Then it's always on your mind... until it's fixed.

It's a similar phenomenon as when the tops of your shoulders (upper trapezius) get tight when they're out of alignment and when your lower traps aren't engaging enough. 

Unfortunately, I hear from clients with pelvic floor issues that they're concerned about doing anything that may "strengthen" their pelvic floor because they've been told it's already too "tight."

Well, here's what's actually going on -->

If your pelvis is tilted posteriorly (a tucked tailbone), it causes an increase in the load (pressure) on the pelvic floor muscles.  Literally every step you take with this posture causes more tension.  

I hear this from exercise instructors and clients who've had PT's tell them to "tuck their tailbone" or "point your tailbone to the floor."  Which is exactly what exacerbates this condition!

Instead, when I hear a yoga instructor say "tuck your tailbone," what I do instead is keep my regular hip anteversion, and pull up on my pelvic floor.  

How to Activate the Pelvic Floor for Strength

Keeping in mind that we're not creating more tension, but instead, real strength.  

You should start with a slightly anteverted pelvis.  Like if your hips are a bowl, and you're spilling the water out of the front of that bowl.  

From that postion, pull up through the bottom part of your core.  This is your perineum, the space between your anus and genitals.  Pull up like it's a vacuum!  To me, it feels like a "zipping up" energy.  

You may notice when you do that, your hips start to move slightly more posterior.  

It's not that you want to have your hips in a posterior position.  Engaging through the perineum/pelvic floor muscles help make sure your hips don't go too far in the anterior position.  That's where the strength comes from!  It's a balancing act.  

Exercises That Can Help

First, we need to encourage a healthy anteversion in the hips.  The exercises I like for that are hip rolls, hip isolations, and cat/cow.  If you're unsure how to do these or you're not sure you're doing them correctly, ask me!  

Once your hips start to have better mobility, we can work on strengthening (not tensing!) your pelvic floor.  For this I like to do simple one-leg lifts, single foot slide-outs, or hip lifts with your feet up a wall.  Let me know if this is something you'd like some help with.  

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