Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor & Kegel Exercises (2018 Guide) 

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strengthening your pelvic floor

Pelvic floor muscles support our lower abdomen, controlling our bladder, bowel and, in the case of women, the uterus. Upon contraction, these muscles lift our internal organs and close the openings. Contrarily, on relaxation, these muscles let urine and feces to exit our body.

Pelvic floor muscles weaken owing to childbirth, pregnancy-related complications, obesity, heavy lifting, chronic coughing, or simply by the age factor. A Medscape Review revealed that 1 out of 3 women suffer from Pelvic Floor Disorder, which can be a huge cause of discomfort in several areas of their life. Some of the unpleasant side-effects and complications include:

  • Inability to retain urine because pelvic floor muscles support our internal organs
  • Miscarriages, as pelvic floor muscles hold the baby and assist their birth
  • Increased pain or reduced sensation during sexual activity because the muscles of the pelvis are too weak
  • A prolapse that ranges from a discomforting feeling to a painful dropping, dragging, and pulling.

How Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Help Women?

 Pelvic Floor Exercises Helps a lot

  • They help women recover from childbirth and post-pregnancy surgeries
  • Improve bowel and urinary control (stress, fecal, and urinary incontinence)
  • Reduce the risk of prolapse in women, the symptoms of which can range from a heavy discomforting feeling, to a dragging and dropping pain.
  • Improve sexual intercourse by decreasing painand increasing sensations of pleasure

The Beginners’ Guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises

Most pelvic floor exercises are gentle, and easy on the body. They have the following steps in common.

  • Sitting, standing or lying down in a comfortable place and relaxing the muscles in your thighs and abdomen
  • Finding your pelvic muscles and working on them specifically. An easy way to identify them is by stopping yourself mid-urination.
  • Practicing your exercises by holding and relaxing the muscles for five seconds, back to back four times. Up the time to 10 seconds after you have perfected the five-second technique
  • Focusing on your pelvic floor muscles only, avoiding flexing the buttocks and abdominal muscles. Isolating your pelvic muscles to work on them is an essential step.
  • Breathing freely during the exercises
  • A steady routine of about 20 reps multiple times a day

Identifying Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

This is the most technical step of them all in the exercise but if you do this right, everything that follows becomes easier and much more effective. Finding your pelvic floor muscles, especially if they are weak, may get a little hard and take up a lot of time initially.

What you need to know is that your pelvic floor muscles are not the same as those of your stomach, buttock, and legs. The more tightly you squeeze your pelvic muscles, the more effectively they will work.

Pelvic Floor Muscles Strength Training: A Comprehensive List

One great thing about pelvic floor muscle strength exercises is the flexibility. They are minimal effort, and don’t require a lot of movement either. You can add a pelvic muscle strengthening exercise into your everyday life, and your training schedule.

With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive list of all the pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises that you can do.

Kegels

You have probably heard of kegels the most when it comes to any kind of pelvic floor muscle exercises. The best thing about kegels is that they require minimal effort, and can be incorporated into your everyday life –you can even do them at work, and no one will notice.

[Relevant: Ultimate Exercises During Pregnancy]

How to do it

  • Identify your pelvic floor muscles
  • Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds
  • Release for 5 seconds
  • Repeat 10 times, and perform kegels 3 times of the day.

Bridge

Another great way to really isolate and target the muscles in your gut, lower back, and the hips as well as the bones in your spine is the Bridge exercise or the hip raise.

How to do it

  • Lie down with your back on the floor, your knees bent and the soles of your feet planted firmly on the ground. Make sure that your knees are hip-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath, engaging your pelvic floor (kegels), and then lift your hips upwards.
  • As you lift your pelvic up, make sure the rest of your body stays put.
  • Hold your breath for 10 seconds in the raised position before lowering yourself back to the floor again
  • Release your pelvic floor muscles after you lower yourself
  • Repeat 10 times.

Squats

Perhaps the best exercise out there for your pelvic floor is the squat. It targets the muscles and bones of your lower abdomen, hips, and pelvic region. This is extremely important not just for pelvic floors, but for everyday activities like desk-job routines, standing in queues or in the bedroom.

How to do it

  • Stand with your legs two feet apart from each other, or hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and sit down slowly as if on a chair.Make sure that you push your hips and butt backwards, while keeping your chin and neck tucked.
  • Stay in this position, with your knees bent for 10 seconds
  • Slowly raise yourself up, still engaging your pelvic floor
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Wall Squat

Also known as wall sits these are the perfect exercises to build the lower half of your body, including the muscles in your buttocks.

How to do it

  • With your feet hip-length apart, stand with your back against the wall.
  • Take in a deep breath, engaging your pelvis (kegel), and slowly lower yourself as if sitting down on a chair. Make sure that you push your hips and butt backwards, while keeping your chin and neck tucked.
  • Stay in this position, with your knees bent for 10 seconds
  • Slowly raise yourself up, still engaging your pelvic floor
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Dead Bug Crunch

Pelvic Floor Exercises

This particular exercise works for all the muscles in your abdomen, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles and your spine and posture as well. It’s known as a dynamic warm-up exercise, which essentially means that it will target different muscles in your body before you prep it for heavier exercises.

How to Do It

  • Lie down on your back, and reach towards the ceiling, and your knees bent and reaching towards the ceiling as well
  • Take a deep breath, engaging your pelvic floor (kegel), and raise your right arm behind your head and your right leg forward
  • Release the pelvic floor muscles and restore your arm and leg to their initial position
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Move to the left arm, repeat the same motions, and perform 10 times.

Jumping Jacks

This is only to be performed after the previously mentioned exercises have actually started to work, instead of in isolation for the pelvic floor itself.

How to Do It

  • Start off by standing with your legs together and your arms by your side
  • Jump up, and as you do so, spread your legs apart and bring your arms over your head
  • Jump back to the initial position with your arms by your sides.
  • Make sure that when you jump, you are engaging your pelvic muscles (kegel) and releasing them when you come back down.
  • Repeat for 1 minute

When to Expect Results

If done regularly, you can expect your pelvic floor muscles to be stronger within a matter of a few weeks, or months. Make sure that Kegel exercises are a permanent part of your everyday routine though.

Pregnancy and Pelvic Floor Exercises

Your pelvic floor becomes weak, stretched, and stressed as early as the first trimester of your pregnancy, and it can cause complications when the baby is born as well. There are many symptoms of pregnancy-based pelvic floor strain and the major one is probably constipation.

Doing appropriate, regular and correct pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy can help you strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, and consequentially

  • Support the weight of your baby
  • Prevent urinary leakage during labor
  • Increase the blood circulation in the perineum area post-birth
  • Make your love life more satisfying

How to Perform Pelvic Floor Exercises When You Are Pregnant

Exercising while pregnant is slightly different than in any other situation; you want to make sure you don’t slip, fall and injure yourself or the baby. Breathing comes not-as-easy, and if your pelvic floor muscles are already weak, you may find yourself leaking more than you should.

Pregnancy and Pelvic Floor Exercises

The trick lies in getting the technique right, and here are a few tips

  • Place a hand on your baby bump, and the other on your shoulder and do a couple of breathing exercises
  • Once you are relaxed and your tummy is steadily moving up and down, stop the movement in your shoulders and focus on the tummy area only
  • Pull up your pelvic floor when you exhale and coordinate it with the contractions that you feel.  Hold the contraction in for a few seconds and return to the initial state after a while
  • Don’t tighten the muscles of your upper gut; rather focus on the muscles below your belly button.
  • When you feel the lower body muscles contracting, hold your breath for about ten seconds, stop and start again.
  • Perform approximately ten contractions three times during the day

The Pelvic Floor and Resistance Exercises

If you follow a healthy diet and exercise routine, pregnant or not, chances are that resistance training is a part of your regimen. Resistance training, usually with a resistance band, is a muscle contracting, strengthening and toning exercise that builds that regions endurance –and you can pretty much do it lying down.

Pelvic floor muscles can also be subjected to resistance exercises but not all of them are safe if you want to strengthen them. For example, lifting heavy weights, dead lifts, medicine ball rotations, sit-ups, crunches, jump squats and full pushups are not going to help if your focus is solely to strengthen your pelvic floor.

However, there are a couple of exercises that are good to go and here’s a helpful guide

  • Dumbbell triceps extensions with your leg on the bench
  • Swiss ball dumbbell exercises
  • Wall pushups
  • Pec deck
  • Dumbbell row
  • Shallow Swiss ball wall squats
  • Floor bridge

The Pelvic Floor and Core Exercises

The Pelvic Floor and Core Exercises

Core exercises consist of muscle strengthen your abdominal, pelvic, back, and gut muscles using various equipments, machines, or carpeted floor tactics. Just as is the case with resistance training, not all of them are safe for your pelvic floor and those that are safe, are only effective when repeated a certain number of times or combined with other exercises.

The basic core exercises for you to avoid when you want to focus on the pelvic floor include V-sits, hundreds, plan positions, abdominal exercises with or without medicine balls, and double leg lowers. With that in mind, here are a couple of pelvic-floor friendly core exercises

  • Ball bridge
  • Side to side knees with your feet on the balls
  • Leg lift sitting on all fours
  • Wall push ups
  • Ball bridges
  • Arms, leg lifts on all fours
  • Single leg extensions

Seeking Professional Help

Not everything can be solved by home remedies and DIYs, and you should always consult a physician at all steps of the procedure. Talk to them about your exercise and diet plans, and get your diagnosed to see whether or not you have pelvic floor disorder.

Professionals can guide you on health issues better than any research you may end up doing, and make sure that you follow all the advice that your doctor gives to you.

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