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Unlocking Strength: The Vital Role of Pelvic Floor Health in Strength Training

Unlocking Strength:

The Vital Role of Pelvic Floor Health in Strength Training

In the world of fitness and strength training, we often focus on building muscle, improving endurance, and pushing our limits. Yet, amidst the grueling workouts and intense routines, there's one crucial aspect of our body's foundation that often gets overlooked: the pelvic floor. Yes, that humble group of muscles at the base of our pelvis plays a pivotal role in our strength training journey, and its health and functionality are essential for maximizing results and preventing injury. This is why the pelvic floor experts at Clash Physical Therapy did a deep dive in order to become some of central Massachusetts’ most competent women’s health providers. 

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Let's delve into why pelvic floor strength is not just a footnote in your fitness journey but a cornerstone for achieving your goals and maintaining overall well-being.

Understanding the Pelvic Floor: More Than Just Kegels

Before we dive into its role in strength training, let's demystify the pelvic floor. Think of it as a hammock of muscles stretching across the base of your pelvis, supporting your pelvic organs (think bladder, uterus, and rectum) and playing a crucial role in core stability, posture, and even sexual function.

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Contrary to popular belief, pelvic floor exercises aren't just about Kegels and addressing urinary incontinence. While Kegels are indeed valuable for strengthening these muscles, the pelvic floor's role extends far beyond bladder control, which is the main function you address by focusing on Kegels. The pelvic floor is intimately connected to your core muscles, lower back, hips, and even your feet. Neglecting its health can have far-reaching consequences, especially in the realm of strength training.

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The Silent Struggle: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in the Gym

Picture this: You're in the midst of a challenging deadlift or squat session, pushing your limits and feeling the burn. Suddenly, you feel a twinge of discomfort or even leakage. You brush it off, attributing it to the intensity of your workout. Plus, how many times have you commiserated about such symptoms with your girlfriends who experience similar issues? Happens to all women as they get older or after kids right? What if I told you those symptoms could be signs of pelvic floor dysfunction and that you DON’T have to live with it?

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Yes, it's common for individuals, especially women, to experience pelvic floor issues during strength training. Symptoms like urinary leakage, pelvic pain, or a feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvis may rear their heads when you least expect them. These issues can stem from various factors, including weak pelvic floor muscles, poor breathing mechanics, or improper form. Most likely it’s a combination of all of these factors, which is why it’s always a good idea to get evaluated by a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health to determine where to start.

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Strengthening from the Inside Out: The Benefits of Pelvic Floor Health

Now, let's flip the narrative. Imagine a scenario where your pelvic floor is strong, resilient, and functioning optimally. How would that impact your strength training journey?

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For starters, a well-functioning pelvic floor provides a sturdy foundation for your core muscles to engage effectively during compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses. This enhanced core stability not only improves your performance but also reduces the risk of injury by minimizing excessive strain on your lower back and pelvis.

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Moreover, pelvic floor strength enhances intra-abdominal pressure regulation, a crucial component of heavy lifting. By coordinating with your diaphragm and deep abdominal muscles, your pelvic floor helps maintain optimal pressure within your abdomen, providing support for your spine and promoting efficient force transfer during lifts. This is why knowing how to properly breathe, how to properly engage the pelvic floor, and how to move with proper technique is so crucial if you want to get the most out of your strength training.

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Beyond the Gym: The Holistic Impact of Pelvic Floor Health

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That being said, the benefits of pelvic floor health extend beyond the gym. A strong and resilient pelvic floor contributes to better posture, balance, and function, both during workouts and in daily activities. It can alleviate symptoms of pelvic pain or discomfort, allow for continence under stress, and make your sex life more enjoyable, thereby improving your overall quality of life.

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Additionally, maintaining pelvic floor health is vital for women's reproductive wellness. Pregnancy, childbirth, and hormonal changes can impact pelvic floor function, making it crucial to prioritize its strength and flexibility throughout different stages of life. Did you know that you can improve your pelvic floor function and work with a physical therapist to reduce pain even if you are currently pregnant? Clash Physical Therapy has helped numerous women who have struggled with pain and dysfunction during pregnancy when they felt like they had no where else to turn.

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It is also really important to address pain and dysfunction that occurs after pregnancy, particularly if your goal is to become pregnant again. It makes the experience safer and more enjoyable the next time around if you aren’t heading into it with some lingering effects of a previous pregnancy. It also just helps improve your quality of life to address post partum pelvic floor recovery whether or not your goal is subsequent pregnancies. Read more about this specifically at our other blog Pelvic Power: Restoring and Strengthening your Core after Pregnancy.

Cultivating Pelvic Harmony: Tips for Enhancing Pelvic Floor Health

Now that we've established the importance of pelvic floor health let's explore practical steps to cultivate pelvic harmony and optimize your strength training experience:

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about pelvic floor anatomy, function, and common issues. Understanding your body empowers you to make informed choices and seek appropriate support when needed. We recommend seeking the help of a qualified physical therapist or another type of women’s health clinician who is well versed in this and can teach you.

  1. Incorporate Pelvic Floor Exercises: Learning how to properly engage the pelvic floor and progressing your ability to load it without symptoms is crucial to being able to participate in weight lifting at the gym, but really just to live life in a way that is enjoyable. Again, this is an area where proper coaching is going to be key. Don’t just do kegels and call it a day, this could actually make your problems worse if they aren’t the right choice for what your body needs.

  1. Mind Your Breathing: Practice diaphragmatic breathing techniques to facilitate coordination between your diaphragm, pelvic floor, and deep core muscles. Proper breathing mechanics enhance stability and support during lifts.

  1. Prioritize Recovery: Give your body adequate rest and recovery between workouts to prevent overtraining and allow your pelvic floor muscles to recover and adapt.

  1. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, such as pain, discomfort, or urinary leakage, and don't hesitate to seek guidance from a physical therapist or pelvic health specialist.

Embrace Pelvic Power for a Stronger You

In conclusion, your pelvic floor is not just a bystander in your strength training journey—it's a powerful ally that can make or break your fitness goals. By nurturing its health and functionality, you're not only enhancing your performance in the gym but also investing in your long-term well-being.

So, let's shift the narrative and give due credit to the pelvic floor's pivotal role in unlocking your strength potential. Embrace pelvic power, and embark on your fitness journey with confidence, knowing that you're building strength from the inside out.

Here's to pelvic harmony and a stronger, healthier you!

If you have questions about if you are having pelvic floor dysfunction or you are experiencing pain don’t hesitate to email us (clash@clashpths.com) or text us (774-314-2487) “Pelvic Harmony” and we will set you up with a FREE consultation!