Let's first review what the pelvic floor is because it's important to understand! The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that runs from the pubic bone to the coccyx. Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. In men they support the bladder, prostate, and rectum. In women they support the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic floor muscles control bladder, bowel, and sexual function and also help to keep the spine and pelvis stable. As you can see these muscles have a lot of jobs and are very important to our bodies!
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and they function in a similar way to other muscles in the body as you can voluntarily contract them and relax them.
A common misconception is that the pelvic floor muscles can only become weak. People often think that these muscles either stay the same or become weak after life events like childbirth or with aging.
While weakness can occur in these two scenarios, the opposite can also happen, these muscles can become tight. This is because the pelvic floor is a group of muscles! Your hamstrings could become weak or tight and so can the pelvic floor.
This point is so important because this means that kegels don’t fix all problems related to the pelvic region. (Kegels are pelvic floor muscle contractions that work on strengthening the pelvic floor.) Kegels are great if the pelvic floor is weak (and if you do them correctly) but if the pelvic floor is tight, kegels are actually moving you in the wrong direction. When the muscles are tight, it's important to first learn how to relax them.
How do you know if your pelvic floor is weak or tight? There are physical therapists who specialize in the pelvic floor who can help you answer this question. Pelvic floor physical therapists are experts in the pelvic floor muscles.
Remember, even though the pelvic floor relates to things like bladder, bowel, and sexual function, it is still a group of muscles!