We rarely skip our legs and regularly train our squats during exercises. You want everything to stay in good condition. But what about our pelvic floor muscles, which keep everything working properly down under? Does that important muscle group also need training? And how?
We asked this to Willeke van der Neut, pelvic physiotherapist founder of BekkenVisie.
The pelvic floor
The pelvic floor, what was that again? “Your pelvic floor hangs under your pelvis like a kind of hammock,” says Van der Neut. “This hammock consists of different layers of muscles and a very strong connective tissue. It has openings for the urethra, vagina and anus. ” The pelvic floor has many functions. Among other things, it supports the abdominal organs such as the bladder and uterus and provides stability in your pelvis. “The pelvic floor also ensures that you can urinate and defecate, but also that you can stop it. And it has a function in making love. ”
Pelvic floor complaints
If the pelvic floor does not function or functions less well, you often have problems with your stool or during sex. Prolapse of the bladder, rectum or uterus, for example, can also occur. We mainly know pelvic floor problems as something that women suffer from after pregnancy. But Van der Neut says it is much more common. “In principle, anyone can develop pelvic floor problems. The largest group is after childbirth, but you often see these kinds of complaints even after the transition. ” Something many people do not know is that men also have a pelvic floor. They also regularly visit the pelvic physiotherapist. In men, the complaints often look slightly different. Consider, for example, prostate problems, problems with stopping or letting urine or stool go, or erection problems.
We often hear or read about weak pelvic floor muscles, but that is certainly not always the problem. “Everyone comes to me with the idea that their pelvic floor is too weak, that they have complaints as a result. But often it is the opposite. The pelvic floor is much too tense. I also regularly see that someone has a coordination problem; the pelvic floor works well, but people don’t know how to use it properly. ” Urinary loss can, for example, be caused by a pelvic floor that is too weak and too strong.
“If you search Google, you get all kinds of exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. You have special eggs, cones and even chairs, all to train your pelvic floor. ” However, those make little sense if you do not know where your complaints come from, says Van der Neut. “For example, if you start training an overly strong pelvic floor like this, the complaints will only get worse with those types of exercises.
Pain during sex
Especially during sex, a too tense pelvic floor can often cause problems. “When you talk about pain or vaginismus, where you feel that penetration is not possible, it often has to do with an overactive pelvic floor.” According to Van der Neut, you often end up in a kind of vicious circle. “If it didn’t work out once or hurt, the next time your body subconsciously goes into a kind of resistance. Even if you are aroused and feel like having sex, it may not work out properly because everything is so tense. As a result, it hurts again, and the tension keeps building up. ” Only when you learn to relax again before sex will it be pleasant again.
Be aware of your pelvic floor
“If you have no complaints during sex, if you can simply hold back your urine and stool and do not often suffer from a bladder infection, it is in principle not necessary to really train your pelvic floor muscles,” Van der Neut believes. You must be aware of what your pelvic floor is and what it all does. “Especially after childbirth, surgery or menopause, it is important to know where the pelvic floor is. That you know how to tighten it, but also relax it. “
If you do have complaints, it is smart to raise the alarm on time. Starting to train your pelvic floor muscles yourself is not a good idea. Together with a physiotherapist, you can look at what your complaints are and what the cause is so that you can get started in a targeted manner.
Pelvic physiotherapists do not only look at your pelvic floor muscles but also examine how much water you drink or the amount of fibre you eat. Because that can also influence how well it all works down under. “You learn, for example, that it is better to let go of your belly instead of retracting it all the time, and how good breathing works. These two things together ensure that the pelvic floor can function properly and is not overloaded. ” If you do have to do exercises, don’t expect any miracles within a few days: after all, you don’t train tight and muscular buttocks in two weeks either.