The pelvic floor’s location in our body allows it to be affected by forces and structures both above and below it. One important structure that many might be surprised has a big effect on the pelvic floor is our feet. Although they may seem to be non-related, the pelvic floor and feet share fascial (a sheet-like connective tissue that’s around muscles and organs) and neurological connections (pelvic nerves travel down the leg and affect function at our feet) which can affect the function of both. The foot/ankle complex also plays an important biomechanical role in transferring loads up through the knee, hip pelvic and spine. Poor motor control, tension, weakness, etc in the foot on up, may affect what’s happening at the pelvic floor.
With all that being said, how does this apply to you and your pelvic floor? When I’m with patients, I like to see what their body does in different loading patterns from the foot on up. Yes, I assess the pelvic floor, but sometimes an internal pelvic exam while laying down doesn’t tell the whole story. I like to see what foot/ankle motor control looks like during single-leg standing, walking, squatting activities, along with other tasks. If there are issues at the foot, that may affect how the pelvic floor functions, so I want to make sure we’re treating the whole body for optimum function.
Test this out on yourself. Step in front of a mirror, march in place a couple of times, and then stand. Take a look at your feet and notice what you see and feel. Is your weight spread evenly throughout your feet? Are your toes gripping to keep your balance? Do you feel you’re shifted forward or backward, or maybe more on the insides or outsides of your feet? Are your feet pointed more inward or outward? If you answered yes, you may want to see a PT for an assessment!
Our feet are a body part we take for granted but are constantly working to help us move through space. Although it might not seem like it, they have a very important connection to the pelvic floor and should be assessed as part of your pelvic floor treatment. Hopefully this will help your give your feet, and pelvic floor, some much needed love!