Pelvic floor? What is that? Do I even care? Well you should! Before I started taking educational courses on women’s health and fitness I had no clue how big of a role the pelvic floor plays in everyday movement. You should care because in daily life tasks and in exercising it is important. Once you begin to understand how the pelvic floor works, you can implement strategies that will improve your overall function. One of the strategies I use and also instruct my clients to use is the Piston Strategy. Julie Wiebe is a Pelvic Floor physical therapist who has created the diaphragm/Pelvic Floor Piston Science that I’ll talk about below.
Quick overview of the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis. You can think of it has two halves- front and back. The back half being the anus and front half being the vaginal/urethral opening (for women). When thinking about engaging the pelvic floor you probably think of a “Kegel”, but it goes beyond just learning how to “engage/tighten/squeeze/hold” the pelvic floor. we also need to learn how to relax the muscles. The pelvic floor works in conjunction with the diaphragm and the transverse abdominis to create a balance in breathing, engaging, relaxing, moving, & beyond. transverse abdominis
Julie Wiebe’s Pelvic Floor Piston
The Pelvic Floor Piston Strategy promotes a balanced team working together to create a strong system as a whole. Leaking? Feel like a tampon is falling out? When holding your breath do you feel pressure downward? Does your belly push out? These are things that we can manage when optimizing our team. “A partnership of muscles acting together in a task is optimally what we want to create”- Julie Wiebe.
With your team you want to create a balanced breath- Diaphragm, Pelvic Floor, and Transverse Abs
· Inhale- diaphragm descends, transverse abs & PF lengthen/relax
· Exhale- diaphragm ascends, transverse abs & PF gentle engage/shorten
Where do you start?
Find a Pelvic Floor physical therapist who can give you individualized cues that work for you. In addition to pelvic floor engagement comes body alignment and working to improve your tendencies. The overall goal is to manage pressure & to eliminate symptoms. Please know the video below is not the only way to learn how to engage the pelvic floor but a good place to start!
I hope that you find this #Protip helpful, please reach out with any questions and/or if you would like more guidance during your pregnancy & Postpartum journey.
Want to learn more behind the Piston Strategy?
Julie Wiebe Doctor in Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy