The Best Pelvic Floor Exercises To Strengthen Pelvic Muscles
"What's the pelvic floor?" I hear you ask. Well, to put it simply, it refers to the group of muscles and connective tissues that support your bladder, uterus and bowel. If you stop weeing mid-flow, you can feel your pelvic floor muscles. Don't make a habit of it though! Having a strong, toned pelvic floor has many benefits. Below, you'll find some helpful times on what causes a weak pelvic floor, and our round-up of the best pelvic floor exercises to help improve it!
In a rush? Read this quick summary:
- The pelvic floor simply refers to the group of muscles and connective tissues that support your bladder, uterus and bowel.
- Having a strong, toned pelvic floor has many benefits, including, preventing incontinence and constipation.
- Some people have a weak pelvic floor. This can cause incontinence issues and make it hard to urinate without pain or straining.
- Causes of a weak pelvic floor can include pregnancy, pelvic surgery, chronic constipation, heavy lifting and being overweight.
- Practising regular pelvic floor exercises is a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce symptoms.
- We explore the best pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, below!
So, what causes a weak pelvic floor?
A weak pelvic floor, or pelvic floor dysfunction, is a condition where you’re unable to coordinate the pelvic floor muscles. This can make it hard to go to the toilet without experiencing pain or straining. Incontinence is another common symptom, as many people will put too much pressure on their bladder, resulting in loss of bladder control. While pelvic floor dysfunction tends to affect people more as they age, it can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender.
Here are the most common causes:
Trauma to the pelvis
A weak pelvic floor can affect different areas of your life, from going out with friends, to using public toilets, to avoiding public transport and shopping trips. Fear of bladder leaks can make some people feel too scared or embarrassed to leave their homes. However, there are some ways to strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce symptoms.
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Benefits of pelvic floor exercises
Want to get a toned and much stronger pelvic floor? Then pelvic floor exercises are now your best friend! These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles and improve the way they function. This can prevent incontinence, pelvic floor prolapse, and constipation. And did you know that a weak pelvic floor can contribute to painful sex? This can be caused by a tightening of the muscles. Pelvic floor exercises help relax those muscles, allowing you to have a better, worry-free sex life with heightened pleasure!
What are the best pelvic floor exercises?
So now that you know what causes a weak pelvic floor and the benefits of pelvic floor exercises, you’ll want to know what some of the best pelvic floor exercises are. Everyone is different, so not all of these exercises will be suitable for you. But just know that doing 1 exercise is better than not doing any exercises. You can start slowly and gradually increase these exercises until you’re doing them more frequently.
1. Happy baby pose
The first yoga pose we want to recommend is the happy baby pose. This is a gentle pose that many people can do, and it can feel relaxing.
- Start by laying flat on your back on a yoga mat or blanket. This could be done on your bed if needed.
- Hug your knees into your chest.
- Then, gently, extend your legs so that your feet are up in the sky.
- Grabbing the soles of your feet with your hands, keep your legs spread apart while your head and shoulders are rested against the floor.
- You can now hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, and you can rock gently side by side, but only if you’re comfortable.
Kegels are one of the best pelvic floor exercises that you can do, and you don’t even need a yoga mat for this one. They can be done anywhere, whether that’s sitting down or lying down. If you struggle with incontinence, you’ll likely benefit from kegels.
- Sitting on a chair or lying down in bed or on the sofa, take a deep breath in for 5 seconds and release for a further 5 seconds.
- Try to imagine you are urinating (trust us on this one) and you need to stop the flow suddenly.
- Contract these muscles for at least 5 seconds, then release.
- Repeat this 5 times a day.
This one can be difficult, as many people have difficulty identifying their pelvic floor. But it will get easier every time you do it! The key is to be patient, take deep breaths, and focus all your attention on your pelvic organs.
Squats aren’t an easy exercise for some people, especially those with back problems. If that’s your main worry, you can do this exercise against a wall to help support your back and lessen the strain.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping yourself calm and your breath steady, slowly bend your legs until you feel like you are sitting on an invisible chair.
- Put your hands together to your chest, as this can help support balance.
- Try to hold this pose for 30 seconds, before gradually returning into a standing position.
- You can repeat this twice daily, or practice this position a few times a week.
Pelvic bridges help identify your pelvic muscles and strengthen them. They can be hard to get used to, at first, but once you get the hang of it, they’re a great exercise to add to your daily routine.
- Lay down with your back pressed flat against a towel or mat with your knees shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms lay flat against the mat.
- Inhale for 5 seconds, as you lift your hips up towards the sky, so you reach a slanted bridge position.
- Exhale and hold the pose for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Inhale and slowly release your position.
- This can be repeated 3 to 5 times a day.
5. Child's pose
Child’s pose is a favourite of most yogis, and it’s commonly placed at the beginning or end of a yoga routine to help unwind and relax the body. It’s a yoga position that’s suitable for people of all levels, and the best thing about it is it helps stretch out the lumbar spine and pelvic floor. A mat isn’t necessary for this pose, but it can be helpful if you have one.
- Start by getting on your hands and knees.
- Widen your knees while making sure your feet are pointed straight.
- Slowly lean forward and lay your arms flat against the floor.
- Put your head down to the ground.
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
- You can repeat this once or twice a day.
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