The Core Connection (internal)
There’s a lot of hype in the fitness industry right now about the importance of your core. Core muscle strength is good for so much: posture, balance, flexibility, and stability. Guess what? Your core is pretty important when it comes to your pelvic health, too.
In our last lesson, you “met" your pelvic floor and picked up some of the basics about your pelvic anatomy and functions. But there’s another core concept (pun intended) that’s key to understanding how your pelvic floor works as part of a larger system of muscles.
Your Core as a ‘Soda Can’
Physical therapist and researcher Mary Massery, DPT, DSc, compares the core to a container, not unlike a soda can, with the surfaces of the can representing different structures.
Diaphragm muscles (top of the can): contract rhythmically as you breathe
Abdominal muscles (front and sides of the can): support your trunk and hold your organs in place
Spinal muscles (back and sides of the can): support your spine and help you maintain your posture
Pelvic floor muscles (bottom of the can): support your organs and play a role in urination, bowel movements, sexual function, pregnancy, childbirth, and more
It’s All About Pressure
Why a soda can and not some other container? Like a soda can, your core compartment is a closed and pressurized container. When all of the structures are healthy and working well together, the can is strong and sturdy. (Think about squeezing a sealed soda can.)
Now think about what happens when you open a soda can. The contents can leak out. The bottom can sink down. The sides can be squeezed or dented, throwing off the can’s balance and structural integrity. The same things can happen with the system of muscles that make up your core. When one part is injured, weak, or tight, other areas are affected.
It’s All Connected
That’s why problems with your abdominal muscles can have downstream effects on your pelvic floor (think: muscle separation during pregnancy and postpartum). It’s why pelvic organ prolapse (when an organ in the pelvis, like the bladder, slips from its usual position and bulges into the vagina) can lead to symptoms far from the area of prolapse. It’s why problems with your pelvic floor can lead to back or hip pain as other muscles try to compensate. Or the opposite: It’s why issues with your abs, hip, or back muscles can affect your pelvic floor muscles, and contribute to issues like urinary incontinence.
That’s why it’s so important to address the entire system of muscles that work together when treating pelvic floor problems. Your Hinge Health exercises are designed to do just that — treat all the muscles that affect your pelvic floor symptoms so you can get back to doing the things you love.