Sooner or later, everyone experiences weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, especially women. This is because childbirth can severely weaken the muscles. But just as it is with every other muscle, they can be strengthened with exercises.
The pelvic floor muscles are critical to many functions around the pelvic organs, including sexual functions.
That’s because the pelvic muscles support the pelvic region, where several organs, including those responsible for sexual arousal and even orgasm, are located.
When these muscles become weak (as most muscles become due to lack of exercise), they lose the strength to fully control activities of the pelvic organs. This leads to pelvic floor disorders causing many people to wonder how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic muscles also help in movement and stability as it helps in stabilizing the trunk. That’s why weakness of the pelvic floor muscles affects several other body functions. Pelvic floor muscle training exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
But, let’s begin by examining the anatomy of the pelvic muscles.
What Are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that run across the bottom of the pelvis, which is at the bottom of the core muscles. They provide cover and support for the pelvic organs.
These muscles play a critical role in the ability of these organs to function properly. The function is similar in males and females, although the organs they control are slightly different for both genders.
In males, they control the bladder and bowel. As a result, the regulation of the flow of urine and feces is controlled by the pelvic floor muscles.
In females, it is also similar, except for the addition of the uterus and vagina. So apart from regulating the flow of urine and feces, it is also responsible for controlling sexual function.
One more function that is often overlooked is the resistance role they play to increase pressure to the abdominal area. For example, when you cough or lift a very heavy object, you put your abdominals under a lot of pressure.
The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for keeping your “waste products” retained in the bowels rather than emptying them under that pressure.
That’s why you immediately know there’s a problem when urine starts leaking when you cough or laugh a bit too heartily.
The muscles are weak.
How do they function? They do so by releasing and shutting these openings. They also support the abdomen and pelvic organs when they contract.
During pregnancy and especially during childbirth, these muscles are greatly strained as they are constantly under a lot of pressure.
Moreover, these constant use and lack of exercise weaken these muscles making it difficult to perform their functions appropriately. Other natural factors like menopause and age may create additional reasons for weakness.
Unlike muscles in many other parts of the body, pelvic floor muscles, despite the critical role they play in the human body, are rarely targeted for improvement. Many don’t even know how to locate, let alone exercise, the pelvic muscles.
This leads us to a common question: do the pelvic muscles need to be exercised?
The answer is yes, because, as you would see, weak floor muscles can cause serious problems. Before we consider how best to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, let’s look at why it’s dangerous if they become weak and unattended.
Problems Caused by Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
As said earlier, whenever the pelvic floor muscles become weak, they lose the ability to fully support the pelvic organs. This leads to a condition simply referred to as pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is commonly noticeable in incontinence (urinary and fecal), painful urination, difficulties while emptying the bladder, heightened frequency of urination due to greater pelvic pressure, a great reduction in sexual sensation, and during sexual intercourse, constipation, and lower back pain.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, generally, weak pelvic muscles make the control of the pelvic organs more difficult.
If it has not become chronic, you can correct the pelvic floor muscles by exercising them. When you locate them, you should exercise the muscles to make them stronger, just as you can exercise other muscles in different parts of the body.
Very few people take their pelvic floor muscles seriously; that is why we have put this article together to provide lessons on strengthening pelvic floor muscles.
Exercises for Strengthening Pelvic Floor Muscles
The advantages of strong pelvic floor muscles are numerous. It certainly leads to better health, improves your confidence, and even has a role to play in a better sexual life.
When you need the quickest recovery after childbirth, pelvic floor exercise is the recommended exercise for you.
When you notice some of the symptoms highlighted above, especially if they are related to chronic incontinence, you may need to consult a doctor.
But if you just want to know how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, probably because you believe your pelvic floor muscles have been under a lot of pressure, then you can take on some exercises.
However, it begins with an ability to identify the muscles:
The bridge can work on the pelvic floor muscles by engaging all the muscles on the buttocks. It’s done by lying flat on the back with bent knees, keeping the feet and palms flat on the ground.
Contract the entire buttocks muscle and then lift the buttocks just off the ground. Retain the buttocks off the ground for 10 seconds, after which you can relax, and return the buttocks to the ground.
Repeat the procedure up to ten times per day. As you contract the buttocks, remember to contract the pelvic floor muscles especially.
The Kegel exercise
There’s a very simple way to identify the pelvic muscles for training. Simply pretend you are urinating, and then hold the flow. By holding it, you have contracted the muscles controlling urination.
The best time to do it is just when you are about to urinate. As you are about to start the flow, just before you release the urine, hold it suddenly. That way, you have exercised your pelvic floor muscles.
You can do that once or twice before urination, although it is medically recommended that you don’t practice the exercise while urinating.
When you’ve identified the muscles from experience, you can then carry out the exercise when you’re not urinating at all, and it is best to do them while seated.
You should also ensure that the abdominal area and thighs muscles are relaxed while carrying out the exercise.
The proper way to do the exercise is to do it when the bowel is emptied. Then tighten it for about 5-10 seconds and release it for another ten seconds. You can then repeat the procedure up to 10-15 times a day.
As noted earlier, the best position to do it is while seated, but any preferable position is ok as long as you can conveniently contract and relax the muscles.
You shouldn’t start with the squats if you’ve not mastered the Kegel or the bridge pelvic exercise. This is because squats target more muscles than the pelvic floor muscles.
The squats are done by standing with the feet apart from each other. Then squat as your buttocks are brought close to the floor, stopping when your knees align with your toes.
Keep your back straight. You then contract the buttocks as you return to your normal position. While contracting the buttocks, focus on tightening the pelvic floor muscles.
You can repeat this cycle up to ten times, twice a day.
Squeeze and Release
Squeeze and Release are meant to increase the sensitivity of the pelvic floor muscles. It is done in a seating position. All you have to do is squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and release them immediately.
The difference between squeeze and Release and the normal Kegel is that you do not attempt to hold the contraction at all.
After every squeeze and Release, you should hold on for about 3 seconds before doing it again. Repeat each cycle about 15-20 times, two or three times a day.
Can You Injure Yourself While Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises?
We have highlighted the normal pelvic floor muscles exercises, which cannot cause injuries. Although some other forms of pelvic floor exercise, like sit-ups, may cause injuries, the injuries hardly affect the pelvic muscles.
Moreover, we have limited our recommendations to fairly safe exercises. They are fairly harmless and would strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in a matter of months.
If you want to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you must stop carrying heavy loads and resume exercising your pelvic floor muscles dutifully.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles begins by identifying them, which can be done with simple exercises.
While the problems of weak pelvic floor muscles are serious, they can be prevented. However, if you are already experiencing serious symptoms, you may require medical attention.
Justin Rodriguez has spent most of his adult life inspiring people to take their fitness more seriously. He is not new to the business of providing practical solutions for those looking to set and smash their fitness goals. From sharing professional tips and tricks to recommending awesome products, Justin Rodriguez helps just about anyone who wants to get the best out of their workout routines.Having gathered a lot of experience both in and outside the gym, Justin Rodriguez uses DSW Fitness as a medium to show you exactly how to get that great-looking body with toned muscles you’ve always wanted.