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How to Strengthen your Pelvic Muscles

Updated: Aug 18, 2022



The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues at the base of your pelvis that form a sling or cradle that support the womb, the bladder, and the bowels. When they contract, the organs are lifted and the openings to the vagina, anus, and urethra are tightened. When the muscles are relaxed, urine and feces can be released from the body. If these muscles are weak, these pelvic organs may lower into a woman’s vagina. Besides being extremely uncomfortable, this can also cause urinary incontinence and a host of other issues. Men can also be affected when as they age these muscles weaken which can lead to both urinary and faecal incontinence.

Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in sexual function. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the ability of achieving pleasurable sensations. During pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process.

Pregnancy and childbirth can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken, and so can other factors like age, obesity, heavy lifting, and chronic coughing.


The Symptoms of a Weakened Pelvic Floor Include:

  • leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running.

  • failing to reach the toilet in time.

  • passing wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting.

  • reduced sensation in the vagina.

  • tampons that dislodge or fall out

  • painful sex

  • fecal incontinence

Pelvic floor muscle training is a proven preventative measure as well as being a conservative treatment for pelvic organ prolapse. This kind of exercise is known to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.

We have found the best exercises that are known to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and mitigate these symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor.


Kegal Exercises

Pelvic muscle training, or Kegels, is the practice of contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You may benefit from Kegels if you experience urine leakage from sneezing, laughing, jumping, or coughing, or have a strong urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine.

Kegel exercises are simple clench-and-release exercises that you can do to make the muscles of your pelvic floor stronger.

Once you understand Kegel exercises, you can do them anytime and anywhere — in the privacy of your own home or while waiting in line at the bank.

When you’re first starting Kegel exercises, finding the right set of muscles can be tricky. One way to find them is by placing a clean finger inside your vagina and tightening your vaginal muscles around your finger.

You can also locate the muscles by trying to stop your urine mid-flow. The muscles you use for this action are your pelvic floor muscles. Get used to how they feel when they contract and relax.

However, you should use this method for learning purposes only. It isn’t a good idea to start and stop your urine regularly, or to frequently do Kegel exercises when you have a full bladder. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can raise your risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Talk with your gynecologist if you still aren’t sure you’ve found the right muscles. They may recommend using an object called a vaginal cone. You insert a vaginal cone into the vagina and then use your pelvic floor muscles to keep it in place. Biofeedback training can also be very useful in helping to identify and isolate your pelvic floor muscles. In this procedure, a doctor will insert a small probe into your vagina or put adhesive electrodes on the outside of your vagina or anus. You’ll be asked to try to do a Kegel. A monitor will show whether you contracted the correct muscles and how long you were able to hold the contraction.

Men often have the same kind of trouble when it comes to identifying the correct group of pelvic floor muscles. For men, one way to find them is to insert a finger into the rectum and try to squeeze it — without tightening the muscles of the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs. Another helpful trick is to tense the muscles that keep you from passing gas.

If you’re still having trouble, practice stopping the flow of urine. As with women, this is a reliable way to locate the pelvic floor muscles, but it shouldn’t become a regular practice.

Biofeedback can also help men locate the pelvic floor muscles. If you’re having trouble locating them on your own, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor.


How to do Kegal Exercises

  1. Always empty your bladder before doing Kegel exercises. As a beginner, you should find a quiet, private place to sit or to lie down before doing your exercises. As you practice, you’ll find you can do them anywhere.

  2. When you first start doing Kegel exercises, tense the muscles in your pelvic floor for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Keep going until you’ve done 10 repetitions. Over the next several days, practice until you can hold your muscles tense for a count of 10. Your goal should be to do three sets of 10 repetitions every day.

  3. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results you want immediately. According to the Mayo Clinic, Kegel exercises may take as long as a few months to have an effect on urinary incontinence.

  4. They also work differently for each person. Some people show great improvement in muscle control and urinary continence. However, Kegels may prevent your condition from getting worse.


Cautions

If you feel pain in your abdomen or back after a Kegel exercise session, it’s a sign that you’re not doing them correctly. Always remember that — even as you contract your pelvic floor muscles — the muscles in your abdomen, back, buttocks, and sides should remain loose.

Finally, don’t overdo your Kegel exercises. If you work the muscles too hard, they’ll become tired and unable to fulfill their necessary functions.


Correct Core Strengthening Exercises

The core is the most important part of the human body. It houses so many vital organs as well as your entire reproductive system. The Core is composed of as many as 35 different muscle groups connecting into the pelvis from the spine and hip area. In order to simplify the core muscles which can be divided into four regions; back extensors, abdominals, lateral trunk muscles, and the hip muscles.

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.

However, not all core exercises will improve your pelvic floor strength, and some core exercises can even be counter-productive due to the fact that they can create more downward pressure on the pelvic floor. Some abdominal exercises are inappropriate for women who are at increased risk of pelvic floor injury due to weakness created by life events such as pregnancy and menopause.

Benefits of doing pelvic-floor-friendly core strengthening

  • Greatly reduced incontinence

  • ​a slimmer waist

  • ​a flatter stomach

  • ​reduces back pain

  • ​less injury risk

  • ​lessened period pain

  • Increased strength

  • Stamina to stand for longer periods

  • Better balance

  • Stronger vaginal muscles


Pelvic Floor Friendly Core Exercises

  • single leg extension with one leg supported by a hand on stationary knee or moving foot on ball

  • knees side to side with feet on ball

  • modified plank on hands or knees with a slight bend at the hips

  • wall push ups

  • ball bridge (feet on ball or back on ball, +/- single leg lift)

  • arm and leg lift on all fours

  • leg lift sitting on the ball

  • shoulder rotations with back on the ball

  • standing balance work on the bosu or balance disc

Please note: while these exercises are pelvic floor friendly, you will also need to consider the number of repetitions, intensity, number of sets, length of rest, activation of your pelvic floor muscle and your fatigue level – which also affects your pelvic floor function.


Core Exercises to Avoid

  • sit ups, curl ups, crunches

  • abdominal exercises with medicine ball

  • V-sit

  • hundreds

  • double leg lowers

  • plank position on hands and feet (eg ‘hovers’, full push ups)


Other Exercises to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

SQUATS engage the largest muscles in the body and have one of the largest payoffs in terms of strength improvement. When performing this fundamental move, ensure your form is solid before you add any resistance.

Equipment needed: Barbell

  1. Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. If using a barbell, it should be rested behind your neck on your trapezius muscles.

  2. Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked and neck neutral.

  3. Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, keeping your weight in your heels and knees bowed slightly outward.

  4. Straighten your legs and return to an upright position.

  5. Complete 15 reps.


THE BRIDGE is a great exercise for the glutes. If done correctly, it also activates the pelvic floor muscles in the process. Even without weight, the pause and pulse of this move will have you feeling it.

Equipment needed: none

  1. Lie on the floor. Your spine should be against the ground, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat, and arms straight at your sides with palms facing down.

  2. Inhale and push through your heels, raising your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Your body — resting on your upper back and shoulders — should form a straight line down from the knees.

  3. Pause 1–2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.

  4. Complete 10–15 reps and 2–3 sets, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

Pelvic floor weakness can cause many problems and symptoms that can affect your quality of life and general sense of well-being. If you suffer from any of the above-mentioned issues you might have a weakened pelvic-floor and would benefit from setting aside some time to do your Kegel exercises as well as pelvic-floor-friendly core strength training, squats and bridges. Just remember not to overdo it as this can cause pelvic-floor muscle fatigue or even exacerbate an injury.


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