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  • Janette O'toole

Pelvic pain and the pelvic floor

Did you know?

· Back pain is common

· Up to 80% of people will experience back pain at some stage in their life The

· The pelvic floor is important in the prevention and treatment of back pain in men and women.

· As well playing an important role in continence, sexual function and the prevention of pelvic organ prolapse the pelvic floor, the pelvic floor is key in providing stability and support to the back and pelvis.

What is the ‘core’?

The pelvic floor, deep abdominal muscles (tranverse abdominus), deep back muscles (multifidis) and the diaphragm together make up the ‘core’.

These muscles work together to support the spine and pelvis.

If any of these muscles are weakened or damaged, this coordinated automatic action may be affected. This can lead to injury or prevent recovery.

Traditional core exercises often exclude the pelvic floor and focus predominantly on the abdominal muscles. This may actually led to further problems by weakening your pelvic floor or by causing your pelvic floor to become overactive.

Research has shown that people with low back pain have a weak pelvic floor muscles compared to someone without back pain. Following an injury it is important to include pelvic floor exercises as part of your rehabilitation.

If you have experienced back pain, pregnancy, childbirth or back/ pelvic surgery, it is likely that your pelvic floor muscles may not be working properly.

Exercising the pelvic floor muscles can be tricky and often it is difficult to know if you are doing them properly. If you are unsure if you are exercising these muscles correctly, or if you are experiencing pain when trying to exercise, it may be helpful for you to have a one-on-one session with a physio to address these concerns.

A pelvic floor physiotherapist can check your pelvic floor in two different ways.

1) Real time ultrasound. This is an easy, non-invasive way for you to see where these muscles are (and how they’re working).

2) A vaginal or rectal examination. This requires specialised training and can provide a more detailed assessment of your pelvic floor.

A pelvic floor assessment is helpful to help you identify where the muscles are and how well they are working, and can be used as a training tool to help them work better.


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