This simple pelvic floor workout can help to prevent common disorders such as incontinence and dropped muscles. The idea behind this workout is to get fit from the inside out, which means to exercise the supporting of muscles, nerves and ligaments that form a sling across the opening of the pelvis.
A strong pelvic floor holds up the bladder, uterus, bowel and rectum, allowing them to function properly. However a combination of age and the stresses of natural childbirth, plus excessive lifting of heavy weights and poorly planned exercise regimes, cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken.
A study by the US National Institutes of Health revealed that about one in three women have a pelvic floor disorder, such as incontinence or dropped muscles. This figure is much higher than previously thought. It is believed that many women suffer in silence, simply wearing incontinence pads, rather than making any real attempt to tackle the problem.
Even though midwives inform new mothers that it is vital to do their pelvic floor exercises after childbirth, many chose not to, or simply forget. This leads to future problems, which are often too embarrassing for women to discuss.
Daily exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
These exercise can help to prevent many of these problems. It is not just women who could benefit either, as research has shown that men who maintain the muscle tone and function of their pelvic floor with a regular workout can avoid sexual problems such as impotence. So if possible, do these exercises with your partner, to help maintain a healthy body as well as a happy sex life in the future!
The pelvic floor workout:
First familiarise yourself with your pelvic floor muscles – they are the ones used to stop the flow of urine.
- Kegals: sitting or standing, contract your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks and do not hold your breath. Try to stay relaxed. Hold for three seconds, then repeat this ten times.
- The pelvic elevator: sitting on a chair with back straight, breathe in deeply. As you breathe out, contract your pelvic floor in four stages. At each stage, contract your muscles a little more until you reach maximum contraction at the fourth stage (also called fourth floor). Hold the contraction, then slowly release the tension as you visualise the lift returning to the ground. Repeat this ten times.
- Four-point kneel: get on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Breathe in and, as you breathe out, contract your pelvic floor muscles and hollow the abdominal muscles towards your spine. Do not move your back. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat ten times.
These simple but effective exercises have been endorsed by midwives and other health professionals, and will help to strengthen the pelvic floor, and reduce risk of incontinence, dropped muscles and impotence, and may also make sexual intercourse more enjoyable. There are said to be significant benefits for the problem of premature ejaculation from having more muscular control of the pelvis. So get kegalling today!
Pilates: 6 minute workout – Strengthen Pelvic Floor
Pilates exercises are a good way to strengthen your pelvic floor. In this video Josie McKenlay takes you through a series of exercises that work the pelvic floor, plus some additional muscles too.
Josie McKenlay trained with the Pilates Institute and the BSY and has been teaching Pilates for over a decade.