5 Breathing Exercises To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

pelvic floor breathing exercises

Recent studies have examined how diaphragm muscle training is as effective as abdominal muscle training and pelvic floor muscle training to reduce pelvic floor dysfunction.

Let’s explore some exercises that you can incorporate breathing in to help address your core areas by reducing strain or providing a gentle stretch across your pelvic floor. You want all of your muscles to share the workload equally. And when this happens, you can better isolate and control the pelvic floor muscle to build strength.

How do you breathe when doing pelvic floor exercises? And which exercises are best for your pelvic floor condition? Here is a list and explanations of some exercises to help your pelvic health.


Belly Breathing 

This breathing technique is great for those with tight abdominals.

  1. Start by lying on your back with your head and the back of your knees supported with pillows. You should feel relaxed and feel as little tension through your body as possible. 
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly for feedback. 
  3. Breathe slowly through your nose and imagine filling your belly with air. There should be more rising through your belly than your chest. 
  4. Exhale through your mouth, let the air escape on its own naturally. Your diaphragm will rebound to its starting position.


Happy Baby 

If you have difficulty letting your pelvic floor go due to tightness or pain, try this exercise with deep breathing. 

  1. While on your back, bend your hips and pull your knees up toward your chest while separating your knees apart. 
  2. Depending on how flexible you are, grab the inside or outside of your feet with your hands. Or, grab both ankles and pull your feet toward your armpits. 
  3. Take a deep belly breath in and imagine a gentle stretch across your pelvic floor. 
  4. Do NOT do this if you know or suspect a pelvic organ prolapse – or you feel like your organs are pushing out!


Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose

Use this technique if you notice your ribs don’t flare out or move up like a bucket handle when you take a deep breath in. 

  1. Let’s start with stretching the right side and begin in a sitting position with your left leg extended out to the side and your right leg bent in. Pull your right foot in near your groin. 
  2. Reach both arms overhead as you take a deep breath in, then as you exhale with arms still overhead, move your left shoulder toward your left knee. 
  3. When your left shoulder is rested near your left knee, take another breath in and try to rotate your chest up toward the ceiling as far as you are comfortable. 
  4. As you exhale, drop your right shoulder down back to start. 
  5. Do this for a few more breaths until you are ready to stretch your left side. 


Scalene Breathing

This type of breathing is great for shallow breathers or those who breathe into the top lobes of their lungs and end up with tight pecs, neck, and shoulders. It also helps to assist with deeper breaths. This technique is also great for someone who might have too much laxity in their pelvic floor and is avoiding breathing into their abdominal cavity. 

  1. You can try this stretch while sitting or standing. 
  2. Place your fingers on your scalene muscles, the muscles along the deep side of your neck. They are right behind the large neck muscles that stick out as you look slightly up. 
  3. As you breathe in, lift your fingers and glide upon the scalenes, and extend your elbows back. 
  4. As you breathe out, glide your fingers down and let your elbows fall slightly forward.


Full-Squat, Knee Hugger

This is an excellent stretch for those who are tight in the back of their pelvic floor and lower back. 

  1. Get into a full squat position, or if you can’t, sit on a low stool and hug your knees with your arms or reach for something sturdy directly in front of you to grab onto. 
  2. Take a deep breath and think about stretching your lower back and flexing forward into your knees. 
  3. Focus and think about aiming that air pressure down into your glutes.
  4. Again, suppose you have or suspect a pelvic organ prolapse, avoid this activity or place a block or stool to provide support against your lax pelvic floor.


Strong core muscles are critical to a strong and healthy pelvic floor. If you’re experiencing issues with your pelvic floor, such as incontinence or painful intercourse, the pelvic floor physical therapists at Smart Body can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


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