As a woman, your body has to go through a lot. Your muscles inevitably get weakened over time. While most people easily find a workout routine to tone their legs, arms, or waist, we often neglect a crucial group of muscles: Our pelvic floor. That’s why Linkingo finds it essential to write a guide on exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Truth be told, the pelvic floor is one of the most vulnerable groups of muscles since there are too many factors that can harm it: From stress and repeated bouts of constipation to childbirth and diseases such as obesity. However, these muscles play a crucial role as they support our bladder and bowel. As they no longer maintain their flexibility, our ladies have to deal with many serious health problems. The most notable one is accidental leakage in the form of urine.
Surveys show that there are around 200 million women across the globe who suffer from incontinence, with 13 million in America. This insane number raises fear among younger people that you can’t help but lose control of your body once you turn middle-aged.
I have good news and bad news to tell you. Fortunately, everyone can do exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and regain control of their bodies. Yes, it is totally possible to treat pelvic floor dysfunction in the comfort of your home with consistent practice. But don’t be overly excited yet: Exercises can be a double-edged sword. If you don’t practice them correctly, they will not deliver any benefit and might even further harm your body.
In this post, with the topic on exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, Linkingo will list the six tips you can use to make the best out of the exercises. As long as you follow them, your effort won’t be in vain!
- Don’t Miss Out: 6 Simple Yet Effective Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women
1. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Find The Right Muscles.
First thing first, we need to know which muscles you are training before working on them! Unlike your arms, legs, or abs, you cannot see or touch your pelvic floor muscles. Without this step, you will be lost, not knowing what you are doing or whether your movements can worsen the condition.
Hence, you have to find a way to identify pelvic floor muscles before deciding which exercises are suitable for you. Experts in this field recommend two methods:
Stopping The Flow.
The first method is to stop or slow down the flow of urine halfway. While emptying the bladder, pause the flow of urine over the toilet for one or two seconds. Loosen immediately and finish without any straining. This “stopping the flow” method can help you locate the muscles around the front passage in charge of urine flow.
Please note that you should only do it once to identify the pelvic floor muscles, not as an exercise. Refrain the flow frequently can lead to urinary tract infections and other urinary disorders.
Stopping the flow is the most effective method to tell the location of your pelvic floor muscles. However, since it can cause harmful effects to your body, you might want to try another way. “Visualization” requires you to imagine refraining the flow while holding flatus. You can either lie down, sit, or stand straight with legs about shoulder-width apart. After that, follow these six steps:
- Loosen your thigh, bottom, and abdomen muscles.
- Tighten the muscles around the front passage just like you are holding the flow of urine.
- Squeeze in the muscles around the vagina and suck it upwards inside the pelvic.
- Tighten the muscles located near the back passage just like stop passing wind.
- Squeeze up the muscles around the front and back passage.
(If you have familiarized yourself with using a tampon, you can imagine squeezing one up higher inside the vagina.)
- Identify the muscles that contract when you perform all of these movements together. Then you can relax and loosen up.
Another way to tell which muscles you need to work with is to use Biofeedback – an advanced technique to learn about some of the body’s functions. Doctors shall connect your body with electrical sensors that help you receive information about your pelvic floor muscles during the procedure. However, it can be costly (around $100) and time-consuming, as one session often lasts for a few hours.
2. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Work On Your Techniques.
After identifying the right pelvic floor muscles, your work is not done yet. As mentioned above, this group of muscles is nothing like your arms, legs, or abs. You cannot see them, and their movements are not easy to feel. To perform exercises like Kegels or Squeeze and Release, you must familiarize yourself with their motion first.
Imagine loosening up like what you do while passing urine. Relax your waist muscles, too, and check if you can squeeze in and keep the muscle inside the pelvis while you breathe. Do note that you don’t have to tighten or tense any muscle above the belly button. Only the lower part of the tummy should tense and flatten because that’s the part of our tummies that work with the pelvic floor.
Hold the muscles gently and see if the pelvic floor muscles are lifting and squeezing in. If you cannot feel it, you will need to change the position and start again. For example, if you sit down and cannot feel the muscles contracting, try standing up.
After a contraction, it is crucial to relax your muscles. This process lets your muscles recover from the previous contraction and prepare for the next one.
It is advisable to do this to correct your technique before performing any internal exercise. Practicing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor for women wrongly can worsen the dysfunction and even affect other organs. In the worst case, it might be an invitation to posterior prolapse.
3. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Establish A Daily Routine.
Like any muscle in our bodies, if you train the pelvic floor muscles daily, they can improve their flexibility faster. In fact, some of the most common pelvic floor muscles for women are internal, so you can practice them anywhere:
- As long as these exercises don’t distract you from driving, you can learn to contract and release your pelvic floor muscles while you are on the way to the shopping mall, as you leave work, to the grocery store, or in any route, you run routinely.
- You can work with your pelvic floor muscles while doing simple house chores like cooking or washing dishes.
- Have some free time? You can do some squeeze or release while watching your favorite TV show! No one around will notice that you are busy regaining control of your pelvic floor muscles!
- While you are working in the office, you can take any moment a day to work out those muscles without anyone noticing.
- Before you go to bed each night, finish the day by performing one last set of exercises. A bit of practicing can not only improve your pelvic floor dysfunction but also makes it easier to get a good night’s sleep.
However, please note that developing a daily routine to train your pelvic floor doesn’t mean that you have to be obsessed with it all the time. You should not do it constantly if you don’t want your muscles to be sore and tired. The same goes for pelvic floor muscles. If you overwork them, you are facing the risk of having a hypertonic pelvic floor. It is also a form of pelvic floor dysfunction that leads to painful sex and worsens incontinence.
4. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Mind Your Breathing!
There is one fact most women with pelvic floor dysfunction don’t know: Working with their lower bodies alone is not enough.
As you inhale, a breathing muscle located near the chest called the “diaphragm” presses down and pushes down your abdominal wall, all the way to your pelvic floor. It allows the pelvic floor to contract and relax automatically. However, if you breathe solely into your chest, these three groups of muscles no longer function as one. It is called “shallow breathing“.
In the long run, it not only makes your pelvic floor weak and frail but also delivers many adverse effects. Recent studies have proven the connection between shallow breathing and cognitive function. Accordingly, it disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It leads straight to blood pressure and an increase in heart rate.
Therefore, as long as you don’t correct your breathing technique, your effort will be in vain. The best way to breathe, according to experts, is to use the belly. That way, you use your nose to bring the air down toward your stomach. As the diaphragm contracts, the abdomen expands to fill your lungs with air. It can increase the oxygen intake and simultaneously helps your pelvic floor muscles function as one with the diaphragm and the abdominal wall, enhancing its flexibility.
Recently, though, Alex Miller, a woman health specialist and fitness expert from Canada, claims that she has discovered a more effective breathing technique called “360-degree technique“. It turns on the body’s natural relaxing hormones (parasympathetic nervous system). What’s more, the method also supports the brain’s connection to the pelvic floor and core.
5. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Correct The Posture.
Your pelvic floor doesn’t function alone. They cooperate with other groups of muscles such as the diaphragm, abdominals, and spinal muscles to maintain continence. Bad postures result in an imbalance within any of these groups, which adds more pressure to the pelvic floor.
Suppose you sit in a slouched position for a long time, it increases the pressure into the tailbone, resulting in pain and pelvic floor tightness. Unfortunately, this has become a common situation during the pandemic due to isolation and working from home. No matter how much you exercise, as long as you don’t correct your posture, your pelvic floor would still suffer.
Below are some tips for the optimal sitting position:
- If you are sitting for a long time, make sure to sit on a chair with a backrest. It lowers the chance of you being distracted by a task and falling into a poor posture that can damage your pelvic floor.
- Find a padded surface to sit on. A hard surface can result in extra pressure and discomfort on the bony structures at the base of your pelvis.
- Place your buttocks right at the back of the seat. Let the backrest support your spine.
- Balance your weight between your sitting bones. Try not to cross your legs.
- Your feet should be supported on the ground, aiming for the hip to rest at a 90-degree angle.
On the other hand, when you stand in a poor posture, the diaphragm and pelvic floor lose their connection. It causes weakness in your abdominal canister, making your pelvic floor muscles weak.
6. Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor – Remember To AVOID These!
Since you already have a weak pelvic floor, some full-body exercises might be too difficult for you to perform. Trying too hard might further harm the muscles and worsen incontinence.
If you just start working out, avoid movements that require you to:
- Sit ups with legs held straight in the air.
- Lifting heavy weight for minimal repetitions.
- Double legs lift.
- Running, jumping, and other high-impact activities.
We understand that you are eager to begin your exercise routine and start improving your pelvic floor immediately. Symptoms that come with pelvic floor dysfunction, especially bladder leakage, can destroy confidence and make them no longer comfortable socializing. However, rushing means you are taking a high risk of further harm to your muscles.
It is best to prepare your healing journey with the tips we provide above. Then, you can start with some light exercises before pushing yourself further.
These tips we provide will significantly boost the effect of pelvic floor exercises. However, make sure that you choose suitable exercises for your health status and practice them correctly.
A Comprehensive Solution To Improve Your Pelvic Floor.
Linkingo understands that it may not be easy for you to practice by yourself without a coach. That’s why today we would like to recommend to you a step-by-step system to strengthen your pelvic floor quickly at home. It is the Pelvic Floor Strong program by Alex Miller. She is a famous health specialist and fitness expert from Canada.
You will learn the 3-easy movement sequence that can strengthen your abdominal canister, including your pelvic floor, and stop your leaking immediately. Most importantly, all the steps are straightforward and 100% natural without any toxic medications or risky surgery. The program is specifically suitable for postpartum and middle-aged women. These are two groups most influenced by pelvic floor dysfunction, Yet, it is tough for them to perform intense exercises.
If you want to learn more about the program, you can check out Linkingo’s honest review on Pelvic Floor Strong here. Our team has spent many hours researching and experiencing the real deal to deliver the most detailed analysis to our dear readers.
Our Final Thoughts.
It comes to the end of our tips on exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. There are six tips in general, and we highly recommend you follow all of them to make the best out of your practice. Remember that missing any will affect your result and lead to more damage to your pelvic floor muscles.
If you find this article helpful, please like and share it with your friends. Don’t forget to read our latest articles on pelvic floor topics:
- 6 Easy Yet Effective Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women
- How To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor With 5 Common Methods
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