Have you noticed an increase in little “leaks” before reaching the bathroom? Do you feel an urgent need to visit the restroom several times a day? Is sex not as enjoyable as it once was?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to tone your pelvic floor muscles.


What is the Pelvic Floor?

Imagine a hammock that runs from your tailbone to your pubic bone, supporting your bladder, uterus, and bowels. Your pelvic floor muscles are that “hammock”. If the “hammock” becomes weak from age or excess stress (such as pregnancy), it cannot properly support the weight of your organs and begins to fail.

A woman’s pelvic floor muscles are responsible for helping to hold in urine, for bowel movements, and to support healthy sexual function. Due to the pelvic floor muscles’ critical function, when a woman’s pelvic floor muscles are weakened, she can begin to experience stress incontinence, an inability to hold in bowel movements, and pelvic organ prolapse.

Pelvic floor muscles can weaken due to a variety of factors including:

  • Inactivity of muscles
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Being overweight
  • Heavy lifting
  • Coughing that goes on for a long time
  • Aging

While there are a variety of factors that can cause a weakening of pelvic muscles, exercising those muscles on a regular basis has proven to have a wide variety of benefits including:

  • A lower risk of vaginal prolapse
  • Better bowel and bladder control
  • Improved recovery after childbirth
  • Increased sexual arousal and pleasure

To exercise your pelvic floor muscles, you must first identify the correct muscles to strengthen.


How do you locate your Pelvic Floor Muscles?

There are a variety of ways you can locate your pelvic floor muscles. The most common method to locate the pelvic floor muscles is to stop the flow of urine during a trip to the restroom.  However, be advised that this method is not meant as an exercise technique and consistently stopping the flow of urine (more than once a week) can result in an inability to fully empty your bladder.

A more intimate technique requires you to insert a clean finger into your vagina while lying down. Once your finger is inserted, your pelvic floor muscles are squeezed around your finger.

If you find that you need extra assistance in locating and exercising your pelvic floor muscles. You may need to visit a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor therapy. A physical therapist might suggest using a vaginal cone, which is a weighted device inserted into the vagina that muscles are contracted around. This device is similar to the finger technique, but is more specialized and less personal.

Once you understand how to squeeze and relax your pelvic floor muscles on command, you will be ready to move on to creating a personalized exercise routine.


What are some exercises for the Pelvic Floor?

There are a variety of ways to exercise the pelvic floor. Some of the most popular include:


  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping them flat on the floor
  • Bend at the knees, keeping your back straight and bringing your buttocks towards the floor, ensuring your knees remain behind the toes.
  • Bend as far as is comfortable in this position, then focus on tightening and releasing the muscles in your pelvic floor, keeping your buttocks relaxed
  • Hold for ten seconds, and straighten to a standing position
  • Repeat (start with a maximum of three reps)


Bridge Pose

  • While lying down, place both of your feet on the floor, with your knees pointing toward the ceiling
  • Place the palms of your hands on the floor on either side of your hips
  • Using your feet, thighs, and core, push your hips off of the floor, keeping your upper back flat on the floor
  • Hold for ten to fifteen seconds, flexing your pelvic floor muscles but keeping your buttocks and thighs as relaxed as possible
  • Gently lower your hips back to the floor and rest
  • Repeat (start with a maximum of three reps)


Kegel Exercises

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position
  • Visualize your pelvic floor muscles
  • Tighten those muscles and hold for three – five seconds
  • Release any tension and take a deep breath
  • Repeat (start with a maximum of three reps)

The great thing about pelvic floor exercises is that there are many to choose from. So, if you don’t feel like an exercise is making a difference, there are others you can try! Experiment with a variety of exercises to find those that give you a good workout and establish a routine for the best results.

When performing any pelvic floor exercises, remember to keep your buttocks relaxed. You will feel tightening in the deeper anal sphincter muscle, but not in your buttocks itself. Also, remember to empty your bladder before performing any pelvic floor exercises and do not over work the pelvic floor muscles, as this can lead to muscle fatigue and increased leakage.


Tying it all together

While we don’t typically think of our pelvic floor as needing exercise, it is important to regularly flex these muscles to prevent uncomfortable, embarrassing, or future medical issues. Establishing a pelvic exercise routine is well worth the time and will bring you desirable benefits!

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