Are you part of Team “I’ve tried Kegels, and it doesn’t work for me?” Then you need to schedule a thorough functional assessment to ensure you are not overloading your pelvic floor tissues with unnecessary work. And to also rule out hypertonic (or tight) pelvic floor muscles.
If you don’t, then over time, you could develop conditions like incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or pelvic pain. And, if you have these conditions already, you could make them worse.
It’s essential to unlearn bad habits and avoid activities that will reverse the progress you are making with your pelvic floor exercise program.
Once you get the knack for coordinating your breath and core muscles, you can begin targeting each of those muscles to improve strength, coordination, and endurance. Reps, sets, and resistance will vary depending on your pelvic floor muscle fitness goals.
Research has shown that pelvic floor muscle training effectively treats pelvic floor dysfunctions and improves women’s quality of life.
The following seven pelvic floor exercises will help develop your pelvic floor and core muscles.
Try isolating your pelvic floor and holding the contraction. If you can’t find it, connect with a pelvic floor therapist to help you find it. Start on your back with your knees supported with pillows. If you can’t squeeze in this position, grab more pillows to keep your body in a supported bridge position. Too easy? Then try contracting when sitting.
Bridging will help strengthen your buttocks and hamstring muscles. Did you know that your deep butt muscles are a part of your pelvic floor? Bridging is also a great functional activity to assist in scooting across your bed. Squeeze your floor while scooting across the bed to prevent leaking.
3. Dead Bug
Target your trunk muscles along your spine, obliques, and abdominals, which are muscles that can impact the pelvic floor. They also help to support the organs in your abdominal cavity. If they are all well balanced, the intra abdominal pressure can be dispersed equally among the core muscles, including your pelvic floor.
This might not be an obvious pelvic floor trainer. Still, we know intuitively that our whole body interacts as a single system during any movement. Sit-to-stand is a very functional exercise that can progress to full squats. Often due to weakness in the hips, knees, and back, people will use various strategies to compensate, such as breath-holding, or bearing down.
5. Hip Abduction & Adduction
The smaller and deeper hip muscles help us to kick our legs outward and inward. They also help create balance in our pelvis when standing, walking, or running. When weakened, they can create an imbalance and change the length of our pelvic floor muscles, which makes them less effective. And the obturator internus (another deep hip muscle) is so deep it forms part of the pelvic floor!
Challenge yourself by taking forward, backward, or sideways lunges! It’s a low-impact exercise that will create an uneven load across your pelvic floor. You will have to coordinate all your core muscles to maintain your balance. If you have an accident during a lunge, try shortening your lunge and not going as deep. You may have to review the previous six pelvic floor exercises if you still leak. Take the time to bulk up your pelvic floor muscles before trying lunges again.
7. Jumping Jacks
If you don’t see yourself in a position of regular high-impact stress across your pelvic floor, then you don’t have to try this one. Suppose you plan to participate in high-impact activities. In that case, this is the time to show your flex and prove to yourself that your floor can withstand strong, repetitive forces. It’s a great way to test yourself if you are looking to get back into athletic activities leak-free!
Our physical therapists are specifically trained in pelvic health. If you’re suffering from incontinence, painful intercourse, or other pelvic floor dysfunctions, contact us today to schedule an appointment.