Pelvic floor: anatomy and how we can strengthen it

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Our pelvic floor is important in many aspects of our day-to-day life: when lifting, coughing, urinating, doing sport, giving birth and, of course, during sex. For a strong and yet relaxed pelvic floor, we need all three muscle layers.

Anatomy of the pelvic floor

The pelvic floor consists of tendons, connective tissue and muscles. These lie in 3 layers on top of each other, work together and merge into each other.

Outer layer

The outer layer encircles the urethra, vagina and anus. These can be opened and closed with the help of the 3 outer pelvic floor muscles. The muscles help prevent incontinence and contract during orgasm.

Middle layer

The middle layer runs transversely between the ischial tuberosities and the pubic bone. It provides support especially when there is sudden pressure on the abdominal cavity. This ensures that we remain continent even when laughing, sneezing or coughing.

Inner layer

The inner layer, known as the pelvic diaphragm, lies in the pelvis like a shell. It is the largest of the three muscle layers and holds the organs in place in the abdomen. It therefore plays an important role in preventing or improving organ prolapse. One muscle loop encircles the bowel and signals when the bowel needs to be emptied – it also needs to relax for bowel movements. The 2 other loops encircle the urethra and the vagina.

Get to know and train the pelvic floor

To tighten this muscle group properly, it helps to know all three layers. In the video you will learn what the layers look like and how to tighten them properly.

Tighten and relax correctly

Sports scientist and Pilates instructor Gabrielle demonstrates how to tighten the pelvic floor muscles correctly. (in german)

Why is the pelvic floor so important?

Most women take an interest in their pelvic floor for three reasons.

  1. In younger years to improve posture and enhance orgasms.
  2. When having children, i.e. pre-emptively during pregnancy and then for recovery after birth.
  3. During the menopause due to hormone deficiency and incontinence.

Posture

The pelvic floor muscles are attached ‘at the back’, so to speak, to the lumbar spine. A slack pelvic floor can result in back pain and poor posture.

Sexual function

A toned pelvic floor has a positive effect on sexuality. Not only are the muscles that contract during orgasm better supplied with blood but they are also stronger.

Pelvic floor during pregnancy

Pregnancy and birth pose probably the greatest stresses to the pelvic floor. During pregnancy, the body’s muscles, ligaments and connective tissue soften. With a vaginal birth, the pelvic floor stretches to make room for the baby's head. During the first six to eight weeks after birth, the pelvic floor should be rested as much as possible. After that, it's time for recovery and pelvic floor training.

Strengthen pelvic floor muscles during menopause

During the menopause hormone levels drop and the body produces less oestrogen. The consequence is that the pelvic floor tissue becomes thinner and drier than in younger years and loses stability. For this reason, many women struggle during the menopause with a weak bladder. This is just when pelvic training is particularly worthwhile.

Training at every age and in every life situation

Whether for more fun in bed, after childbirth or during menopause – the female pelvic floor plays an essential role in a woman’s health and well-being throughout her life. For this reason, training it is always worthwhile – not only to strengthen the three muscle layers, but also to relax them.

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