The pelvic floor is often overlooked, but it is an important set of muscles to exercise. A strong pelvic floor is responsible for control and pleasure, and it also controls the bladder and bowel movements.

What is the pelvic floor

So what exactly is the pelvic floor? These supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments form a hammock at the base of the pelvis, helping the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum function properly. They are the base of the nucleus, which provides stability and support to the organs of the lower abdominal cavity.

Common causes of pelvic floor problems include pregnancy or childbirth, hysterectomy, certain sports, aging or inactivity of the pelvic floor muscles, just to name a few. Once the pelvic floor has been compromised, problems such as incontinence, decreased libido, or even pelvic organ prolapse can arise, when the pelvic organs protrude into or out of the vagina. The most common sign of a weak pelvic floor, affecting up to 25% of women, is involuntary urine leakage (incontinence) .

Fortunately, pelvic exercises can help restore strength and reverse some of these negative effects. These exercises, also known as Kegels, involve tightening and relaxing the muscles in the genital region to isometrically train the pelvic floor muscles.

How to locate your pelvic floor

Before beginning the following exercises, you must first be able to locate the pelvic floor muscles. Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin lying down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  • Squeeze and lift the rectal and vaginal areas as if you are trying to avoid urination. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then release.
  • You should feel a closing feeling in the genital area when you squeeze. Imagine yourself drawing energy from the base of the pelvic bowl throughout your body and through the crown of your head.
  • Do 5 reps.
  • Use this Kegel sensation for the next 7 exercises.

7 pelvic floor exercises

Add these pelvic floor strengthening exercises to your exercise routine to improve your intimate life and reduce your risk of incontinence.

Puente

 

This pelvic exercise helps strengthen your pelvic floor, core, and hamstrings.

  1. Begin lying down with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your arms down along your body with your palms facing down.
  2. Hook your pelvic floor. Then, inhale to lift your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds and then exhale to slowly release your hips down.
  3. Repeat for 3 reps.

Moving plank

 

This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and the other surrounding core muscles.

  1. Start by throwing yourself on the floor on your belly. Stand on your forearms, straighten your legs, and place your toes underneath to form the plank.
  2. Bring your belly button up and in and engage your pelvic floor. Your shoulders should be stacked above your elbows and your hips should be in line with your shoulders.
  3. While staying in the plank form, inhale to move your shoulders in front of your elbows and onto the balls of your feet.
  4. Exhale to roll your shoulders back over your elbows, pressing your heels back.
  5. Repeat 15 times.

Squats on the wall to strengthen the pelvic floor

 

Also called a “wall sit” exercise, this exercise helps strengthen the pelvic floor, core, and legs.

  1. Stand in front of a wall.
  2. Place your back against the wall and then put your feet in front of you so that the wall supports you.
  3. Bend your knees until they are at 90 degree angles and hook your pelvic floor. Keep your belly button up and toward your spine so that your lower back is pressing against the wall.
  4. Reach arms extended in front of you, hold for 60 seconds, then release.

Split in table position

 

This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and core muscles.

  1. Begin lying down with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your arms down along your body with your palms facing down.
  2. Adjust your pelvic floor and lift your feet off the floor. Position your shins parallel to the ground so your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Keeping your knees at 90 degree angles, inhale to separate your thighs.
  4. Exhale to squeeze your thighs again and contract your pelvic floor.
  5. Repeat for 15 times.

Pelvic inclinations in table position

 

These pelvic tilts help you strengthen your pelvic floor.

  1. Begin with your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your shoulders on your wrists and your hips on your knees.
  2. Inhale to round your lower back, tilting your tailbone down. Tuck in your chin, lift your belly button, and contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Exhale to return to center.
  4. Repeat for 15 times.

Bird dog

 

This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and the rest of the core muscles, improving balance and coordination.

  1. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Adjust your pelvic floor.
  2. Shift your weight on your left hand and your right knee. Then inhale to reach your right arm forward and your left leg back.
  3. Pause for a moment to balance, then exhale to bring your right hand and left knee back to the starting position.
  4. Shift your weight on your right hand and your left knee. Then inhale to reach your left arm forward and your right leg back.
  5. Pause for a moment, then exhale to bring your left hand and right knee down.
  6. Continue alternating for 12 reps.

Dead Bugs Crunches

 

This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.

  1. Begin by lying down with your knees bent and your heels on the floor. Extend your arms behind your head and hook your pelvic floor.
  2. On an exhale, bring your knees to your chest and cross your shoulders on the floor. Reach for your toes as you contract your pelvic floor.
  3. Inhale to lower your arms and heels to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 15 times.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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