Hi friends! Did you know the pelvic floor is made up of several different muscles? Those muscles are grouped into two groups: the superficial pelvic floor muscles and the deep pelvic floor muscles. This week we are going to talk about the two layers.
Let’s start by talking about why we care about the pelvic floor muscles. Both of these layers work together to perform four main functions: support, sphincteric (keeping pee/poop in or out at the right times), stability, and sexual function. These muscles can become tight, lax, weak, or uncoordinated. When this happens, we can see signs of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction including leaking urine/poop/gas, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic or hip pain.
The superficial, or outer, layer of the pelvic floor creates a triangle with the ischiocavernosus muscles, the bulbocavernosus, and the superficial transverse perineal muscles. These muscles join together at the perineal body. The perineal body is the area between the vagina and the anus. This area is a common site for pain and is usually where tears happen during childbirth.
The external anal sphincter, which tightens to keep pee and poop in and lengthens to let them out, is part of the superficial layer of the pelvic floor.
Watch the video below and Jeanice will teach you how to do a self-check of these muscles.
The deep pelvic floor muscles consist of several different muscles. You may here the term levator ani, which is the name of the group of muscles; however, not all of the deep pelvic floor muscles are a part of the levator ani.
It is difficult to distinguish between each of the deep pelvic floor muscles separately without in depth anatomical knowledge, checking these muscles as a group can give you good insight into the functioning of your pelvic floor.
Watch the video below with Jeanice to learn how to check your deep pelvic floor muscles.
To learn more about your pelvic floor, check out these great resources:
Pelvic PT Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles with Dr. Samantha Richter, PT, DPT, WCS
How to Pass the Women’s Clinical Specialist (WCS) Exam: Part 1 with Dr. Jamille Niewarra, PT, DPT, WCS
How to Pass the Women’s Clinical Specialist (WCS) Exam: Part 2 with Dr. Beth Shelly, PT, DPT, WCS, BMB-PMD
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT