Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic Floor Exercises – How To Do, Types, Benefits, and Side Effects

Pelvic floor exercises also known as Kegal exercises work on pelvic muscles of your body that offer support to your pelvic organs including bladder, bowel, and uterus. With age, the pelvic muscles naturally get weaken leading to many minor to major health risks increase in both women and men. However, with some effective pelvic floor exercises, these muscles can be toned and recovered.

In women after delivery, the pelvic muscles get weaker due to recent extreme level stress on pelvic organs. Whereas in men pelvic organ may lose after prostate surgery leading to the risk of rectal prolapsed increases. However, all these concerns areas can be eliminated by following a fixed and consistent exercise routine that targets the pelvic organs.

These workouts will improve the bladder and bowel control and reduces the risk of vaginal prolapsed, increases extra weight carrying efficiency during pregnancy, and better recovery after child-birth in women and after prostate surgery in men. Also, it improves sexual function by strengthening these muscles. Pelvic pain during sex can be reduced and your ability to feel sensation and achieve orgasm increases with only five minutes everyday practice of pelvic floor exercises.

When the pelvic muscles contracts the organs like bladder, bowel, and uterus are lifted and openings to the anus, urethra, and vagina are tightened. Again when the pelvic muscles are relaxed feces and urine are released from the body.

Factors and conditions that make your pelvic floor muscles weaker include pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, age, chronic coughing, and heavy weight lifting. As a result of weak pelvic floor muscle issues like incontinence, uncontrollable passing of wind and painful intercourse experiences occur.

The pelvic floor muscles are very sensitive and it needs to be identified correctly for the effective result before starting an exercise routine for toning pelvic floor muscles. If anyone has undergone a surgery recently or has recent normal childbirth should consult with their doctor first to ensure that they can safely practice these exercises if their doctor recommends for the same. Otherwise, in such a recovery phase of health, any improper body movement can make you pay off negatively.

What Are the Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Pelvic floor exercisesThe pelvic floor muscle exercises are the proven conservative treatment technique that helps in preventing the pelvic organs prolapse risk. These exercises consist of a very simple form of workout and body movement that targets the exact area in which the pelvic floor muscles are squeezed for few seconds and then releases. These exercises are extremely simple to follow at any point in time of the day and anywhere as per your suitability. You even do not require to use the equipment for practicing different pelvic floor exercises. However to make your exercise more challenging you can even use the equipment.
For the effective result, you need to know where are the pelvic floor or Kegal muscles are exactly located. These muscles remain present under the pelvis attaching from the pubic bone in the front to your spinal base at the back.  It has three openings including the vagina, bladder outlet, and anus. They are formed of three muscle fibers, nerves, tissues, and ligaments.

Way To Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Exactly

If you are not sure which muscle actually you need to work on follow the below-mentioned methods to identify your right pelvic floor muscles as exercising the right muscles is equally vital as doing an exercise.  It is advised to avoid the usage of your legs, glutes, and stomach while trying techniques to find your pelvic floor muscles.

  • Method 1- While urinating you need to stop the flow of your urine in midstream. The muscles which will help you in doing so are the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Method 2- While you feel the urge to pass the wind, you need to hold it back and the muscles that will tighten as a result of this activity are your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Method 3- When you tighten or squeeze the muscles you will feel the upward movement and this exactly locates your pelvic floor muscles.

With these three methods, you will easily locate your pelvic floor muscles which you need to focus upon while exercising.

How To Practice Pelvic Floor Exercises

Any type of exercise aims at strengthening the targeted muscle mass. The pelvic floor exercises increase the strength of pelvic muscles that consists of vital organs of the body. Though with age the pelvic floor muscles start getting weaker and increases the risk of prolapse of organs covered by these muscles group but it is beneficial for all age groups of men and women.

It prevents the risk of embarrassment that you have to face if little urine leaks out while coughing, sneezing, exercising, and laughing in public. The pelvic floor exercises can be practiced through the below-mentioned steps.

  • Initial Position- Start with taking your position that is to stand, sit, or lie down on the floor with feet slightly apart. Keep your shoulders, thighs, abs, and buttocks relaxed. This should be your initial position.
  • Get Started- Now squeeze the ring of the muscles around your front and back passages in the pelvic floor. Feel the movement on the upward level.
  • Hold- You need to hold down the squeeze for a few seconds. As per your ability and comfort, you can increase the duration for more few seconds.
  • Repetition- You need to perform 10 slow squeezes in order to complete the one set. In the next set, you need to do ten quick squeezes. This way practice 3 sets of 10 reps two times in a day.

Tips

For the best result you should not squeeze too tightly nor should you hold the squeeze for a long duration. This way you can complete a basic form of a pelvic floor exercise

Types of Pelvic Floor Exercises

Below we have enlisted some most effective pelvic floor exercises mixed with other exercises. These workouts are very easy to practice and help in building muscle strength and tone your pelvic muscles. Don’t forget to warm up your body before practicing these exercises.

Bridge

It is one of the most effective exercises for toning the glutes. It also activates your pelvic floor muscles if performed correctly. Though you do this without any equipment still with the pause and pulse of its move you can feel the strength.

Muscles Involved- Glutes, pelvic floor and hamstrings

Equipment Required: None

  • Fr doing this exercise first lie down on the floor. Keep your spine against the ground, bending the knees at 90-degree angle and feet flat and arms in straight position at your sides and keeps your palms facing down.
  • Now inhale and push through the heels. Raise your hips off the ground by squeezing the glutes, pelvic floor, and hamstrings. In this state, your body will rest on your shoulders and upper back. You need to form a straight line down from the knees.
  • Hold for 1 to 2 seconds at the top and get back to the initial position.
  • In this way complete 10 to 15 reps and 2 to 3 sets and rest for 30 to 60 seconds between the sets.

Tips

In order to make this exercise more challenging practice this exercise on a stability ball. In the initial position place your feet on this ball keeping your back in a flat position on the ground and repeat the steps as mentioned above.

Squats

In the squats exercise the largest muscles of your body are engaged so the pay off also remains very big in the form of improving the strength of a big area. While performing this exercise makes sure that your form is solid before adding any resistance.

Muscles Involved- Glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps

Equipment Required: Barbell

  • For doing this exercise first you need to stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than the shoulder-width apart and your toe pointed out slightly. If you are using the barbell then it must be rest behind your neck on the trapezius muscles.
  • Once you’re starting position is set then bend your knees and push your butt and hips back as you do while sitting on a chair. Keep the chin tucked and your neck in the neutral position.
  • Now you need to drop down till your thighs reach to parallel position to the ground. Keep your load in the heels and your knees bowed bit outward. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • After that straighten your legs and get back to your initial upright position.
  • This way completes the 15 reps.

Bird Dog

This exercise helps in improving balance and stability. It involves a full-body move in which several muscles of your body engages at one time including the pelvic floor.

Muscles Involved: Abs, back, glutes and hips

Equipment Required:  None

  • Start this exercise with wrists under the shoulders and the knees under hips. Keep your back straight and your neck in the neutral position.
  • Now brace your core and draw the shoulder blades down to your back towards your hips.
  • Begin your move with simultaneously straightening and raising the left leg and your right arm. Keep your pelvis and shoulders in the neutral position. Do not raise or put down your head. Stay in this position for 2 seconds.
  • Now bend and lower the leg and arm down back to the initial position, maintain your stability. After that switch and raise your left arm and right leg. Your one rep is completed now.
  • This way complete 10 reps of 3 sets.

Split Tabletop

It is a leg movement that works like the foundation of many moves in Pilates workout. The addition of split in the tabletop leg movement you will activate your hips as well as pelvic floor muscles.

Muscles Involved: Abs, hips, and pelvic floor

Equipment Required: Mat

  • Start this exercise with your back on the floor and knees bent so that your thighs get perpendicular to the floor, keeping your shins parallel to the floor.
  • The abs should be braced and the inner thighs should be activated and legs touching.
  • Now in a controlled movement start with splitting your legs slowly so that your knee falls outward to reach a comfortable position. Hold down for a few seconds.
  • After that raise back to reach your starting position.
  • In this way complete 10 to 15 reps of 3 sets.

Pelvic Lift

The pelvic lift also known as pelvic tilt exercise helps to strengthen the lower back, glute, and pelvic muscles. Also, it maintains the hip muscle balance.

Muscles Involved: Lower back, glute, pelvic floor muscles

Equipment Required: Mat

  • For doing this exercise first you need to sit on a mat and then extend your legs in the front. Keep your feet slightly wider than the hip-width apart. Place your hands behind you with palms flat on the floor, facing outwards. Keep your chest up and the spine in a neutral position and look straight.
  • With the support of your palms and heels lift up your hips, clench the pelvic floor muscles and let down your head back.
  • Stay in this position for 10 seconds. As per your preference, you can practice slow or quick squeezes while the hips are lifted.
  • Now slowly lower your hips, unclench the pelvic floor muscles and then get back to the starting position.
  • In this way do a set of 10 reps total.

Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Or Kegel Exercises

The Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are beneficial for both men and women of all ages. The benefits that you will get in general after incorporating these exercises in your everyday life include-

Enhances Bowel Movement and Bladder Control

The regular practice of pelvic floor exercises improves the bowel movement and relieves issues like constipation etc by ensuring easy movement of stools without any kind of difficulty.

Also, it increases your bladder control which is very crucial to avoid embarrassing situations in public places. With age, the control over the bladder system reduces or deteriorates which can be well managed and prevented with the help of pelvic floor exercises.

Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse Risk

The pelvic muscles help in holding the pelvic organs including bladder, uterus, and rectum in their exact place from below. However, if these muscles get weaker due to any reason they become incapable of holding the pelvic organs in their right place, leading to organs sag over time also known as prolapse. However, with pelvic floor exercises, you can keep these muscles tight and toned and prevent your pelvic organ prolapse risk.

Provide Support to Growing Baby During Pregnancy

With each increasing month of pregnancy the size of baby increases as they are growing in their mother’s wombs. Not every woman manages to carry this increased weight comfortably. Also, it impacts the bladder control ability of women.

However, this issue can be prevented if you start doing pelvic floor exercises even before your pregnancy. Then your pelvic floor will remain to strengthen that can offer good support to the growing weight of baby along with better control over the bladder system during pregnancy.

Help in Recovery After Childbirth

It takes a long time for the body to recover after childbirth. Lots of issues a woman faces in her post-delivery phase of life. However one can cope with these issues and even reduce their intensity and quantity by half with the help of regular pelvic floor exercises.

These exercises will tone and strengthen the pelvic organs and prevent issues like urine leakage, Painful or uncomfortable bowel movement, etc.

Aid in Recovery After Prostate Surgery

Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are not only beneficial for women but it is equally effective for men as well. It helps in easy and speedy recovery after prostate surgery and prevents urine leaking issues.

Improves Social Confidence

Lots of embarrassing situations a person has to face in public if they have weaker pelvic floor organs as they have already loosed their control over bladder and rectum. Issues like urinary incontinence or unintentional passing of urine are some common issues associated with weak pelvic organs that can hamper your confidence in a public place.

Activities like jumping, exercising, sneezing, coughing are some conditions where leakage of urine happens due to weak pelvic floor muscles. However, with regular practice of pelvic floor exercises, you can strengthen these muscles and issues like urinary incontinence can be eliminated just within a few week's time.

Improves Sexual Life

The kegel or pelvic floor exercises are also known for improving your sexual life with a much better experience. It increases your sensitivity level during intercourse. Hence the chance of reaching orgasm in women increases. In men, these exercises reduce erectile dysfunction issues and ensure better intercourse experience for both the partners.

Side Effects Associated with Pelvic Floor Exercises

If someone is not doing the kegel or pelvic floor exercises correctly or overdoing this or correct muscles are not contracting then it can lead to issues like weaker pelvic floor, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, UTI and back pain. So before doing these exercises, it's better that you consult with a doctor to ensure that you are working on the right muscles and doing them properly to get the best result out of them.

In the end, we can say that it’s good to include Pelvic floor exercises in your everyday life routine under the condition you are doing it under an expert’s supervision at least for initial days when you get confirmed whether you are doing them right or not. Along with strengthening the pelvic floor organs these exercises also improve the overall quality of your life. So start doing these exercises by today itself after consulting with your doctor.

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