Diastasis Recti & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic Floor & Core
Pelvic floor & core dysfunction is common in women. In fact, 30 - 80% women of women will experience low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and/or diastasis recti during their lifespan. While these conditions are common, they are not normal, and you don't have to live with them. Individualized exercise prescription and lifestyle modifications can significantly improve your symptoms!
What is the Core?
The Deep Core
The deep core is made up of a group of four muscles that form the core canister. The pelvic floor form the floor, the diaphragm forms the roof and the tranvsersus abdominus and the multifidus form the walls of the canister. When these muscles are healthy and functioning optimally, the work together silently to support the spine and pelvis - to allow us to perform our daily activities without interruption!
The Superficial Core
The superficial core is made up of the large muscles in your trunk that connect the rib cage to the pelvis, as well as the muscles of the pelvis. This include the long back muscles on either side or your spine (the erector spinae), the quadratus lumboru, the external and internal obliques (the muscles that twist and bend your trunk), the rectus abdominis (your 6-pack muscle), the psoas (hip flexors), the gluteal muscles (hip extensors) and the muscles of the hips that are responsible for abduction, adduction and internal & external rotation. The superficial core muscles coordinate with the deep core muscles to create movement.
The Deep Core Muscles are:
- Pelvic Floor
- Transversus Abdominus
Simply, the role of the core is to support the spine and pelvis.
Our bodies are under constant load due to gravity, and these loads are transferred through the bones and joints of the low back, pelvis and hips, down to the legs and feet to the ground. In order to effectively transfer loads without the spine buckling, stability is required. Stability is achieved with a optimally functioning deep core muscle system.
The deep and superficial core muscle system is a finely balanced system that requires all parts to work together. When the deep core muscles are turned on at the right time, in the right order, with the right amount of force, they are able to control (provide stability) to the joints of the back and pelvis before adding load- movement of the arms and/or legs. Additionally, when the superficial core muscles are coordinated with an optimally functioning deep core, and respond with the appropriate amount of force needed for the task, we can move with easily without restrictions.
When the deep core and superficial muscles are working properly, the body is using an optimal strategy for stability. It doesn't create stiffness in your muscles or too much compression on the joints = happy muscles and joints! Additionally, the deep core system is able to manage intra-abdominal pressure, which increases with every movement we do - getting out of bed, walking, pushing or pulling open doors, lifting children or heavy loads = happy pelvic floor!
The deep core muscle system can become dysfunctional a number of factors: hormonal and alignment changes during pregnancy, type of birth, poor posture or movement habits, trauma to the body (surgeries, falls, car accidents), hormonal changes in menopause, digestion issues related to diet, stress, or medications, obesity, and chronic illness such as asthma.
When the deep core is dysfunctional, the body is great at compensating. It will find a different strategy for stability which relies on using the superficial core muscles. This strategy allows us to keep moving, however, it is a non-optimal strategy and can result in failed load transfer causing loss of mobility or ease of movement, a decreased ability to maintain balance, excessive compression through the joints and bones, and intra-abdominal pressure that is not well-managed. Ultimately, one or more dysfunctions can result.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor & Core Dysfunction
- Urinary Incontinence - Leaking urine with laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, transitional movements or exercising
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse - Pressure, heaviness or bulging in your vagina or rectum
- Low back pain -
- Pelvic Girdle Pain - Sacroiliac joint (SI) or pubic symphysis pain
- Diastasis Recti - Bulging or doming of your abdomen during any movement or exercise
- Chronic Constipation - Irregular bowel movements
- Painful Intercourse
You don't have to live with pelvic floor & core dysfunction, we will ensure you know how to find and activate the deep core muscles correctly, and then learn how to coordinate them with the superficial muscles, using optimal strategies, in your every day activities. Individualized exercise prescription and lifestyle modifications can significantly improve your symptoms!