What’s importance of pelvic floor exercises?
Let’s get the basics down:
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor, also called pelvic diaphragm, is the set of muscles and other tissues that compose the bottom of your pelvis. That is, the set of muscles that surround and support your uterus, vagina, bladder, rectum, and perineum.
Basically, the pelvic floor muscles are the ones you use when you need to go to the bathroom. You are able to use the bathroom because you relax and contract these muscles, even without realising it.
Also, pelvic floor muscles play a big role in sexual function, namely in orgasms.
Why do we need to exercise it?
Both men and women have a pelvic floor, although women’s is larger, to accommodate the uterus and vagina. As we said, the pelvic floor has essential functions in our lives. It both allows us to urinate and have bowel movements, to experience orgasms, and its part in childbirth is completely vital.
There are some disfunctions that can happen in our pelvises, and pelvic floor exercises can help with them.
What are the benefits of pelvic floor exercises?
Since the pelvic muscles and tissues have such an important role in our bodies, it’s important we keep the pelvic floor musculature healthy. One of the best ways to go at it is by doing pelvic floor exercises.
These exercises can help you improve bladder and bowel control, prevent incontinence, increase sexual sensation and orgasms, improve vaginal muscle control, increase vaginal lubrication, and reduce risk of pelvic prolapse.
At the same time, pelvic floor exercises can go a long way when it comes to childbirth. Pregnant women or recent mothers have a lot to benefit from pelvic floor exercises as they can not only make childbirth easier, but also speed up recovery after labour.
The 5 pelvic floor exercises to start doing now
So let’s cut to the chase: what are the 5 top pelvic floor exercises you need to start doing now? Check them out.
Kegels re by far the most well-known pelvic floor exercises. They’re great because they act directly on your pelvic muscles and are invisible. You can literally do them while working, relaxing, reading a book, or even while talking on the phone.
But to do these pelvic floor exercises correctly, you need to identify the right muscles. The easiest way to do this is to sit down on the toilet and stop urination midstream. If you are able to doing so, you’ve identified your pelvic muscles.
Now for the Kegels, just:
- Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.
Additionally, you can also do very fast repetitions of contraction and relaxation of your muscles for about 15 seconds at a time.
But, watch out for some common mistakes while doing Kegel pelvic floor exercises that can put too much strain on your abs:
- Do not hold your breath;
- Do not squeeze your buttocks;
- Do not stop urination midstream often, as it can harm your bladder and give you UTIs;
- Do not do Kegel pelvic floor exercises with a full bladder;
- Do not overdo it.
And with this said, let the Kegels begin!
You might remember the bridge from PE classes, from a gym session, or even from yoga. That is correct, as the bridge is one of the pelvic floor exercises that also activates other muscles like the glutes. To do the bridge just:
- Lie on the floor with your spine against the ground and knees bent at 90 degree. Keep your feet flat, and arms straight at your sides with palms facing down.
- Inhale and raise your hips off the ground by pushing through your heels, squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Your body should be resting on your upper back and shoulders.
- Hold position for 1–2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10–15 repetitions and rest 30 seconds between sets.
Squats are no news for anyone. You might have used them to tone your legs, abdomen, and glutes. But they also work as pelvic floor exercises. It is important to keep your core engaged while doing it to be sure to use the right muscles.
- Stand up with your back straight and your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be slightly pointed out.
- Bend your knees and lower your pelvis as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Do the “sitting down” motion until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your weight in your heels and knees pointing slightly outward.
- Hold position for 1-2 seconds and go back to the original position.
- Do 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions and rest 60 seconds between sets.
The bird dog is a good exercise to strengthen your abs, back, glutes and hips and also doubles as a pelvic floor exercise. You might need to do some repetitions until you get the hang of it and feel your pelvic muscles activate.
- Stand on all fours, with both your hands and knees firmly supported on the floor, and shoulder- and hip-wide apart.
- Keep your back straight and your neck neutral.
- Engage your core and send your shoulder blades down towards your hips.
- Inhale and raise one leg to the back and the opposite side arm to the front, aiming to keep them straight. Aim to not lower or raise your head. Hold for 2 seconds.
- Exhale and relax, and go back to your initial position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side, resting one minute between sets.
The tabletop is a Pilates leg move that activates abs and hip muscles. However, it also activates your pelvic floor muscles, and for that it is used as a pelvic floor exercise.
- Lay down with your back flat on the floor.
- Raise your legs, bending your knees, so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor. Your legs should be touching.
- Begin to slowly split your legs open, making your knees fall outwards.
- Go as low as you can (you should feel comfortable) and hold for 2 seconds.
- Raise your legs back so that your thighs are perpendicular and your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Do 3 sets of 10–15 repetitions and rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
Take care, Of yourself. Of your planet. Of your body.