Understanding Underactive vs. Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles – Signs, Solutions, and Self-Care

Monday, February 26, 2024

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Understanding Underactive vs. Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles

Signs, Solutions, and Self-Care

The pelvic floor muscles, though often overlooked, play a vital role in our daily lives. From supporting our organs to controlling bladder and bowel movements, these muscles are essential for overall health and well-being. However, like any muscle group, pelvic floor muscles can suffer from imbalances that lead to either underactivity or overactivity. Understanding the difference between the two and knowing how to address them is crucial for maintaining pelvic health.

Identifying Underactive and Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles

Pelvic floor muscles can become weakened due to lack of exercise or excessive tension. Underactive pelvic floor muscles are characterized by weakness from lack of use, making it difficult for them to contract fully or maintain a contraction. On the other hand, overactive pelvic floor muscles are weakened because they are in a constant state of contraction, leading to fatigue and difficulty achieving a full contraction.

A simple self-assessment can help determine the state of your pelvic floor muscles. Try performing a Kegel exercise. If you can feel the activation but notice a quivering or tapering off sensation, your pelvic floor may be underactive. Conversely, if you feel nothing at all or very little, your pelvic floor may be overactive.

Understanding the Role of Personality Types

Interestingly, personality types can also influence the tension levels in pelvic floor muscles. People who exhibit Type A behavior, more competitive or anxiety-prone individuals, tend to harbor more tension in their bodies, leading to overactive pelvic floor muscles. Conversely, those with a Type B personality, characterized by being more relaxed and easy-going, may experience underactive pelvic floor muscles due to less tension.

What to Do: Solutions for Underactive and Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles

Once you've identified whether your pelvic floor muscles are underactive or overactive, it's essential to address them accordingly.

For Underactive Pelvic Floor Muscles:

If you find that your pelvic floor muscles are underactive, focusing on strengthening exercises is essential. The pelvic floor consists of two types of muscle fibers: slow-twitch (Type I) and fast-twitch (Type II). To effectively strengthen these muscles, it's important to target both fiber types with a combination of endurance holds and quick contractions.

For Overactive Pelvic Floor Muscles:

On the other hand, if your pelvic floor muscles are overactive, relaxation techniques are key. This involves not only relaxing the pelvic floor muscles but also releasing tension in the surrounding accessory muscles such as the inner thighs, abdominals, and glutes. Deep belly breathing coupled with pelvic floor lengthening and stretching exercises can be beneficial in promoting relaxation and reducing tension in these muscles.

In Conclusion..

Maintaining pelvic floor health is crucial for overall well-being, and understanding the difference between underactive and overactive pelvic floor muscles is the first step towards addressing any issues. By incorporating targeted exercises and relaxation techniques into your routine, you can help restore balance and function to your pelvic floor muscles, promoting better bladder control, pelvic stability, and overall pelvic health. Remember, consistency is key, so make pelvic floor care a priority in your self-care routine. If you need help determining which category you fall under, personalizing a care plan, or any additional assistance in your treatment of pelvic health dysfunction, don't hesitate to reach out to us at EmpowerHER Pelvic PT.✨

Post written by:
Taylor Thompson, PT, DPT
Founder of EmpowerHER Pelvic PT

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