5 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Women
After childbirth or as you get older, you may notice that your pelvic floor muscles have become weak.
The pelvic muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. When they contract, the organs are lifted and the vagina, anus, and urethra are opened. When the muscles are relaxed, urine and feces can be released from the body.
Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in sexual function. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the ability to elicit soothing sensations. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles support the baby and aid the birthing process.
Pelvic floor muscles may be weakened due to pregnancy and childbirth, and therefore other factors such as age, obesity, heavy weight lifting, and chronic cough. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause:
- uncontrollable passing of wind
- painful sex
Pelvic floor muscle training is a proven conservative treatment or preventive for pelvic organ prolapse. Research reports showed the practice to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms of pelvic organ progression.
Try these five exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce these side effects.
Pelvic muscle training, or Kegels, is an exercise to contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles. If you experience a leakage of urine by sneezing, laughing, jumping, or coughing, or have a strong urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine, you may benefit from Kegels.
- Main muscles worked: pelvic floor
- Equipment needed: none
1. Identify the right muscles. The easiest way to do this is to stop urine flow. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
2. To perform kegel, contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds.
3. Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.
Squats add the largest muscles in the body and are one of the biggest payoffs in terms of strength improvement. When performing this fundamental step, make sure that your form is solid before adding any resistance.
- Main muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps
- Equipment needed: barbell
1. Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and toes slightly outward. If a barbell is used, it should be rested on the back of your neck over your trapezius muscle.
2. Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back as if you are going to sit on a chair. Keep your chin torn and neck neutral.
3. Keep your heel and knees slightly outward until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
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 step will make you feel it.
- Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, pelvic floor
- Equipment needed: none
1. Lie down on the floor. Your spine should be against the ground, at a 90-degree angle to the knees, feet flat, and palms straight, with palms facing down.
2. Inhale and push through your heels, lifting 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 below the knees.
3. Stop 1-2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.
4. Complete 10–15 reps and 2–3 sets, 30–60 seconds rest between sets.
Take it to the next level
For an additional challenge, complete this exercise on a stability ball. In the starting position, place your feet on the ball with your back flat on the ground and repeat the steps above.
4. Split tabletop:
The tabletop is afoot gait that serves as the foundation for many moves in a Pilates workout. By adding segmentation, you are also activating your hips and pelvic floor muscles.
- Muscles worked: abs, hips, pelvic floor
- Equipment needed: mat
Start with your back to the floor and bend your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your calves are parallel to the floor.
1. Your abs should be hung and your inner thighs should be activated, feet touching.
2. In a controlled movement, begin to slowly split your legs so that each knee falls outward, reaching a comfortable position.
3. Go back to the start slowly.
4. Complete 10–15 reps and 3 sets.
5. Bird dog:
An exercise in balance and stability, the bird dog is a full-body gait that lets you engage multiple muscles at once, including the pelvic floor.
- Muscles worked: abs, back, glutes and hips
- Equipment needed: none
1. Start on all fours with knees below the shoulders and below the hips. Your back should be straight and your neck should be neutral.
2. Tackle your core and pull your shoulder blade down towards your hips.
3. To initiate the gait, straighten together and raise your left leg and right arm together, keeping your pelvis and shoulders in a neutral position. Do not turn your head up or down. Hold for 2 seconds.
4. Keep your feet and hands down and return to the starting position while maintaining stability. Then switch, raising your right leg and left hand. This is 1 representative.
5. Complete 10 total reps and 3 sets.
If you need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, there are several easy steps to include in your routine that can be beneficial. Remember to consciously engage the muscles during each exercise to get maximum results.