In humans, the pelvic muscles support essential organs in the lower abdomen, including the bladder, bowel, and uterus. Weak pelvic muscles cause many health problems, including bladder incontinence and painful sex.
However, weak pelvic floor muscles can recover through exercise and training. This article will cover all the details you need to know on how to strengthen the pelvic floor.
What Is Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor is the area between the tailbone and the pubic bone inside the pelvis. It features a set of muscles that support the bowel and bladder. In women, the muscles also support the vagina and the uterus.
Contracting the pelvic floor muscles lifts internal organs like the urethra, vagina, and anus. The mechanism tightens the sphincters, which control the vagina, urethra, and anus opening. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows the passage of digestive waste and urine.
The relaxation and contraction mechanism in the pelvic floor is also crucial for fun and pleasurable sex.
What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is the lack of control over the muscles in your pelvic floor. It forces you to contract your muscles instead of relaxing them and vice versa. In this situation, the internal organs around the pelvic floor will lack adequate support. The result is an inability to control urine and bowel movements.
If left untreated, pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to discomfort when using any of the lower body organs. It may also cause long-term colon damage and infection.
Some of the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- Lower back pain
- Constipation or bowel strain
- Pain around the genitals, rectum, and pelvic region
- Painful sexual intercourse for women
- Muscle spasms in the pelvis
- Urinary incontinence
- Painful urination
Some of the causes of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- Pelvic surgery
- Nerve damage
- Injury to the pelvic region
- Prostate cancer treatment in men
- Chronic constipation
How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
You can strengthen your pelvic floor by adhering to the following guidelines.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Excess weight puts extreme pressure on the internal organs within your pelvic floor. Overweight people and those living a sedentary lifestyle are at risk for pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Making dietary changes and embracing regular exercise will strengthen your pelvic floor over the long term.
Traumatic injury to the pelvic area weakens your pelvic floor. If you’re looking for how to strengthen your pelvic floor, take all precautions necessary during sporting activities. Use your seatbelt while driving, and avoid activities that will put unnecessary pressure on your pelvic area.
Embrace Pelvic Strengthening Exercises
There’s enough evidence on the efficacy of pelvic strengthening exercises. Choose a few and practice them regularly to achieve long-term results.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Some of the joint exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor include the following.
This pelvic floor dysfunction exercise works well for people without mobility issues as you have to do it on all four limbs. Here’s how to do the bird dog exercise:
- Get into the yoga tabletop position
- Raise your left leg and right arm simultaneously, stretching them out to the back and front, respectively
- Return them slowly to the floor
- Repeat the process for the left arm and right leg
- Return to the starting position
- Keep your pelvic muscles and glutes squeezed throughout
- Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions
Kegels are perhaps the most widely publicized solution for people looking at how to strengthen the pelvic floor. They are so popular because you can do them anywhere and anytime without anyone knowing. The idea is to contract the pelvic muscles like you’re trying to hold in your urine and hold for at least five seconds before release.
Repeat up to ten times per session and aim for at least three daily sessions. Increase the number of sessions as you get used to this pelvic floor therapy exercise. There are many apps online if you need digital help when looking for how to strengthen pelvic floor muscles with Kegels.
The bridge exercise is another example of pelvic floor physical therapy exercises you can do without equipment. It acts on different muscle groups, including the pelvic floor muscles. Here’s how to complete the bridge:
- Lie on the floor facing upwards
- Bend your knees to a 45-degree angle with your feet on the ground
- Push your hips and pelvis into the air
- Remain in the position for 4-5 seconds
- Bring your hip back to the floor slowly
- Keep your pelvic muscles squeezed throughout the exercise
- Aim for 5-6 sets of 12-20 repetitions per day
Split tabletop pelvic floor exercises target your inner thighs, core, and pelvic muscles. Here’s how to complete them:
- Lie on the floor
- Raise your legs 90-degrees in the air
- Point your toes toward the ceiling
- Move your legs out on both sides, creating a V-shape, without straining too much
- Hold your legs using the core muscles for 3-5 seconds
- Bring the legs back to the center slowly
- Repeat 12-20 times for 3-6 sets
Benefits of Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor muscles are no different from others in your body. They work best when the muscles can release fully after contraction. Strengthening the pelvic muscles delivers the following benefits:
- Enhanced support for the pelvic organs
- Better bladder and bowel control
- Relief for symptoms of pelvic floor prolapse (pelvic pressure, lower back pain, incontinence, etc.)
- Sex-related improvements in men and women, including the correction of ejaculation problems and erectile dysfunction
- Correction for an overactive bladder
Further Assistance from Tummy Temple
At Tummy Temple, we offer a range of therapy including pelvic floor therapy options for men and women in Seattle, WA, looking to strengthen their pelvic floor. We can provide customized pelvic floor routines for you. Call us today to book an appointment to discuss how to strengthen the pelvic floor.