Nutrition for Recovery

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a broad term that gets thrown around a lot and encompasses many different diagnoses. When we hear “pelvic floor dysfunction” the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is kegels. The term kegel refers to pelvic floor strengthening which can be used to treat a variety of different pelvic floor dysfunctions. But did you know that treating pelvic floor dysfunction is more than just doing kegels? Constipation can have a big impact on pelvic floor function and most people don’t realize that having regular and consistent bowel movements is super important for overall pelvic floor health! 

So to dive deeper into this topic; do you know what your stool looks like? Stool can be divided into 7 different types depending on the consistency. This is called the Bristol Stool Chart.


Consistency is related to a few things; diet and hydration being the most important. Staying hydrated and having a healthy balanced diet high in fiber is crucial to having proper stool consistency. Having a type 3 or 4 stool allows our bowel movements to happen without having to use a lot of force through our core and pelvic floor and is the easiest for our pelvic floor and anal sphincters to expel. 

If you are having constipation or any pelvic floor dysfunction we encourage you to take a look at your stool. If you notice that you are on either of the far ends of the scale to try and make some changes to get yourself more to the middle. And as always if you feel you need more guidance or a thorough evaluation give us a call and one of our pelvic floor physical therapists would be happy to help you!

Kate Dolan, DPT

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Breathing and Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is certainly a hot topic of conversation for many men and women. Specifically, people begin to focus on their pelvic floor when they are having incontinence, urgency/frequency, prolapse, or pain associated with going to the bathroom or having sex. These are all issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction. But, what many don’t realize, is that your pelvic floor is also integral in one of our most basic functions: breath.

The diaphragm, our respiratory muscle, is located at the bottom of the ribcage. At rest, the diaphragm is a domelike shape, and with inhalation the diaphragm muscle contracts and drops downward toward your pelvis. This downward motion is followed by a shifting downward of internal organs, into the pelvic bowl. The pelvic floor muscles and fascia make up the bottom of the pelvic bowl. So, with this downward force during inhalation, the pelvic floor muscles also descend or stretch slightly downward. Immediately following inhalation and pelvic floor descent, is exhalation, and similarly, the pelvic floor follows the diaphragm as it rises upward to a resting position. This synchronous rising and falling of the diaphragm and pelvic floor is often referred to as the “piston effect”.

Not to be left out, the lower abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis) also contribute to this synchronous movement pattern. Working together by relaxing and stretching with inhalation and a “belly breath”, and tightening and drawing inward slightly with exhalation. In this way, the diaphragm, abdominals, and pelvic floor make up an abdominal cylinder that modulates intra-abdominal forces and pressure changes.

When this cylinder isn’t coordinating well together, or if there is tightness or weakness within the system, we see common musculoskeletal complaints: low back pain, SIJ pain, poor stability through the back and pelvis, hip pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, urgency/frequency of urine or stool, prolapse, poor posture, balance issues, and intolerance to exercise.

Our pelvic floor physical therapists can help evaluate these movement patterns and coordination of these systems, and create a treatment approach specific to you and your individual challenges.

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