Range of Motion. We hear the term tossed around at our local gyms and therapy offices. But how does it relate to the pelvic floor?
Just like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor must be able to move through flexion (pulling up and in or "Kegeling") and extension (opening and elongating). These two ranges of motion give us healthy movement and optimum function. We need to be able to flex our pelvic floor so that we can stop gas or to not pee or have a bowel movement. We need to be able to extend our pelvic floor muscles so that we can completely eliminate our pee and poop and birth a baby. Fulling appreciating intercourse is the ultimate example of being able to participate in both flexion and extension.
I often hear "am I pulling up or pushing out?" from my clients. It may be hard to figure out which way you are moving the first few times you try. A pelvic floor therapist can help you discriminate this movement.
For those stuck in flexion, you may:
- Find intercourse uncomfortable
- Feel like you haven't completely eliminated after your bowel movement
- Feel like you pee frequently or incompletely
For those of you stuck in extension, you may:
- Not be able to control the passing of gas
- Not be able to control the passing of pee or poop
- Intercourse may not have the same sensation it used to
- Tampons may feel like they "don't fit'
What can we do about improving our ability to participate in full range of motion? A pelvic floor therapist has many tricks of the trade to address this. However, I find visual imagery helpful as a way to help enhance the pelvic floor's mobility.
For the flexion junkies (you need extension. Here's a way to picture it):
- Imagine a cold pat of butter striking a hot frying pan. Picture how the edges soften and spread out as it melts.
For the extension-oholics (you need flexion. Here's a way to picture it)
- Imagine fluid being pulling up through a straw.
It's vital for comfortable movement to have all our muscles being able to participate in their full range of motion. I just happen to think that having it apply to the pelvic floor is a little more fascinating than just your bicep :)