You may have heard chatter about pelvic floor exercises and the numerous benefits they have. These exercises are specifically designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles that support the uterus, bladder, bowel, and vagina. Over 40% of overweight women and over 50% of women who have been through vaginal childbirth do experience the symptoms of pelvic floor problems. Doing these exercises regularly and correctly significantly reduces your chances of suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction.
Who needs Pelvic Floor exercises?
Virtually all women will benefit from pelvic floor exercises, more so if you’ve gone through a pregnancy and natural birth, have just undergone surgery or treatment for gynecological cancer, are in menopause or have a history of severe constipation, coughing and are overweight.
However, these exercises may not help if you are already experiencing severe urine and stool incontinence when they laugh, cough or sneeze. You may need to see a physician and get tested for severe pelvic floor dysfunction. Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor physio or prescribe some meds for relief.
First, identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urination while midstream. Once you define them you can start the exercises in any posture you find most comfortable, but most women prefer to lie down. Tighten your muscles as if you are lifting something with them. Keep them tight for three seconds then relax. Count to three and try again. Avoid holding your breath, and do not compensate by flexing your abs, thigh muscles, or glutes. Focus entirely on your pelvic floor muscles and breathe freely. Try to have three sets of Kegel exercises 10-15 times a day. You are advised, however, to avoid doing these exercises as you urinate. Ceasing urination midstream can predispose you to UTI due to incomplete emptying of the bladder.
Squats are the best exercises to build your muscle strength. To try these, stand upright, have your feet slightly further apart than your shoulder width. Bend your knees and push your hips and glutes back, while keeping your gaze forward and chin tucked. Keep going until our thighs are parallel to the ground, and keep your weight on your heels. To help with that, lift your toes slightly. Go back to an upright position, then squat again. Try 15 repetitions, and take breaks if you need to.
The Bridge is not only a good exercise for your pelvic muscles but also your glutes. You do not need any weights or extra equipment. Just lie down and keep your back plastered on the floor, then raise your knees and keep your feet flat. Also, have your arms to your sides, and your palms face down. Then inhale and lift your hips off the ground by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles, glutes and hamstrings. Pause in that position for 1-3 seconds then drop back down. Try 15 repetitions, at least thrice a day.
These exercises provide a ready solution for you if you need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Engage your muscles and be consistent to reap maximum results.