Did you know that about 25% of women experience symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction? This incredibly prevalent condition can be uncomfortable, resulting in urinary incontinence, poor balance, and more.
One of the biggest reasons that so many women experience pelvic floor problems is due to a lack of education. It can be a difficult and awkward topic to broach, and so many women suffer in silence. But with just a few pelvic floor exercises, you can enjoy all the benefits of stronger pelvic muscles.
In hopes of removing some of the stigmas around pelvic floor dysfunction and providing a bit of general knowledge, we put together these exercises that you should incorporate into your routine! Read on to learn more!
What Is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles in the deep core. They sit deep under your rectus abdominis, or your six-pack muscle. You can’t see them, but you can feel them when you activate them.
These muscles act like a hammock across the brim of the pelvic bone. This hammock supports the internal organs of the abdominal cavity.
As a deep abdominal muscle, the pelvic floor is also important to balance, proprioception, and core control. It’s even theorized that weak pelvic floors are one of the factors that contribute to women experiencing more ACL tears than men due to less trunk stability and balance.
Pelvic Floor Disfunction
There are a few openings in the pelvic floor for the anus, birth canal, and urethra. If these openings are weakened or in bad condition, the whole hammock is weakened.
For this reason, giving birth can cause a damaged pelvic floor, leading to incontinence and, in severe cases, prolapse of the abdominal organs. However, even if you haven’t given birth, you can still experience pelvic floor dysfunction.
In fact, more than a quarter of high school athletes experience pelvic floor problems. The repeated bouncing and stress of running, jumping, and similar motions can progressively weaken the delicate web of muscles.
There are several telltale signs of dysfunction. If you have pelvic floor weakness, you might experience the following:
- Leaking urine when sneezing, coughing, or laughing
- Strong urge to urinate
- Fecal incontinence
- Reduced sensation in the area
- Tampons frequently dislodging
Dysfunction is surprisingly common but seldom talked about. 90% of those affected say they never talk about their symptoms but would do the exercises if they knew how.
Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
Just like any muscle, the pelvic floor will weaken if not exercised. But the more you exercise it, the stronger it will become.
With a structured weekly workout schedule, you can restore your pelvic floor function. In addition, working out your pelvic muscles doesn’t take very long, and you don’t even have to go to the gym to do it.
There are three main exercises you can do to improve your strength. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time for results to show. You’ll start to experience improvement in 6-12 weeks.
Kegels are the simplest and easiest way to improve pelvic floor strength. They’re simply the flexing and relaxing of the pelvic muscles.
First, identify the correct muscles. You can identify them by stopping your flow of urine mid-stream. This is the muscle you want to target.
You can perform Kegels anywhere, anytime. However, when you’re starting out, start by laying on your back with your knees bent. Then squeeze your pelvic muscles in, hold, and release. Sometimes it can help to visualize sucking them in like a claw.
The gold standard for pelvic strength is to perform 10 reps, holding each contraction for 10 seconds, resting for 10 seconds between each rep. However, this takes some time to work up to.
Begin by holding each contraction for 5 seconds, and relax. You can perform them as often as you want. Shoot for once to three times a day.
Bridges are a great way to both strengthen your pelvic floor and bring it into function with the other muscles in the area.
Start by laying on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
Then, activate your pelvic floor with a contraction similar to a kegel. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips up until your spine is straight. Don’t arch your lower back while performing the exercise.
Hold the position for 5 seconds, and perform three sets of 5-19 reps every day.
If this is already too easy, or you want to work your glutes harder, add a resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
3. Kegel Tools
In addition to the standard exercises, there are several pelvic floor exercising tools. With Kegels, it can be difficult to figure if you’re activating the right muscles. 60% of people who do Kegels do them wrong, even when guided by a professional.
With that in mind, Kegel kits were invented. These kits activate the muscles for you, automatically, with no work at all on your part.
You can pick a workout program that’s up to 20 minutes long, and then the machine will run it for you. Work your Kegels while watching TV or relaxing on the couch!
Start Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises Today
Now that you understand the importance of the pelvic floor and why you need to keep it strong, you have no reason to put it off any longer. Be proactive about your pelvic health with some pelvic floor exercises.
Keep your deep core strong by getting a Yarlap Kegel exercise kit, with proven results for a healthier lifestyle. Reach out to us with any questions, and experience better pelvic health today!