Welcome to Linkingo’s complete guide on pelvic floor exercises for women! As you are here with us, perhaps you or your loved ones suffer from bladder leakage limiting all daily activities.
Women often avoid discussing this matter at length, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Statistics show that around twenty-five million people in the U.S. are living with urinary incontinence. Among them, 75 – 80% are women of all ages. Accordingly, almost one of every four women has to deal with unexpected urinary issues. Since this is not a topic people can bring up comfortably, you might be thinking that this is your own fight, but trust me, you are not alone. If we don’t look straight at the problem and find a way to solve it, the condition can ruin our entire life as it only gets worse over time.
Many factors can lead to bladder leakage. In some cases, this might be a symptom of bigger medical conditions. Obesity, cystitis, or even neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease might lead to urinary incontinence. However, the most prevalent cause of leakage doesn’t have anything to do with other illnesses. Instead, it involves something called the pelvic floor.
About The Pelvic Floor.
Before we analyze how to strengthen pelvic floor muscles using exercises, we need to understand this part of our bodies.
Imagine a basket of muscles that hold your bladder, uterus, and bowel. That’s exactly what the pelvic floor is. These muscles relax when we need to urinate or have a bowel movement and contract to stop the flow of urine, tightens the vaginal opening, prevents us from passing stool or gas.
As long as these muscles function well, you are in control of urination and bowel movements. However, due to a variety of reasons, they can lose their resilience. These include age, childbirth, obesity, intense physical activities, injuries, and the associated straining of chronic constipation. Among them, pregnancy and hormonal changes are the most common. Still, the condition can happen to anyone, regardless of age.
While pelvic floor disorder has become common as women get older, it is not an inevitable part of aging. The traditional medical industry often overlooks this condition simply because it is not life-threatening. Yet bladder leakage can significantly damage one’s life quality and ruin their confidence.
How Do Exercises Improve Bladder Leakage?
Since the pelvic floor is supposed to work automatically, people don’t have to think about it most of the time. However, when it is not doing its tasks, we should focus on improving it for proper function. Fortunately, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles. Just like any other muscle, you can train them to be more flexible through regular exercises. As they become stronger, they can respond well to contracting and releasing. That helps you regain control of your urination and get rid of bladder leakage.
There is a problem here, though: Most people assume that to improve the flexibility of the pelvic floor, they should work with their lower body only. That’s an incorrect way of thinking. To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, you need to train your upper body’s muscles as well.
Why is that? When a person without the dysfunction inhales, her “breathing muscle” (or diagram) presses down and touches the abdominal wall, all the way to the pelvic floor. At the end of the process, every layer descends, and the pelvic floor is relaxed. For one with the condition, though, the case is different. Her diagram, abdominal wall, and pelvic floor are no longer synchronized. Hence the lower body’s muscles become weak and frail.
If you don’t solve this problem, your pelvic floor dysfunction will get worse as you age. Therefore, it is important to exercise both your upper and lower body. Otherwise, your effort shall be in vain.
What Do Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises Benefit You?
Scientists prove that doing pelvic floor muscle exercises have many benefits, such as:
- Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, help you regain bowel and bladder control.
- Lower the risk of vaginal prolapse.
- Lower the risk of rectal prolapse.
- Accelerate the recovery after childbirth or gynecological surgery.
- Improve sexual sensation, therefore boost the libido.
- As bladder leakage is improved, patients can get back their confidence and enhance the quality of their life.
Now, let’s look at the six most common pelvic floor exercises for women and find out how to strengthen the muscles. Linkingo will provide an in-depth analysis of each so you can see which one is most suitable to practice.
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Squeeze And Release.
It is a simple movement to make your pelvic floor muscles respond faster. A plus point is that you can practice squeeze and release anywhere at any time, and it doesn’t take more than a few seconds. The exercise does not require any equipment.
However, to perform this movement, you need to identify the correct muscles you need to work with. That’s the reason why it is often recommended as a part of Biofeedback. Other than Biofeedback, though, you can try some methods to find the right muscle. Squeeze and release deals with only your pelvic floor muscle. Therefore, as mentioned above, you need to practice it with other exercises to get the best result.
There are five steps to the “squeeze and release” exercise:
- Sit down and find a comfortable position. It is not compulsory, though, since you can also perform the movement while standing. However, it is to ensure your convenience.
- Picture the pelvic floor muscles you need to work with.
- Squeeze them as fast as possible, then release them. Please note that you should not try to hold the contract under any circumstance.
- Rest for three to five seconds.
- Do it again for another ten to twenty minutes.
It is recommended to perform squeeze and release at least two times a day. Because the exercise is very straightforward, you can do it as much as possible to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
2. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Bridge.
While most people only know of bridge exercise to improve the strength of the buttocks, it also effectively activates the pelvic floor in the process. That’s because the practice requires your glute, hamstring, and pelvic floor muscles to work. You can sense the pause and pulse of each movement even without any weight.
To perform the bridge exercise, you simply:
- Lie on your back and bend the knee. Keep your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Let your arms stay by your side with palms facing down.
- Contract both the buttocks and pelvic floor muscles. Start lifting the buttocks.
- Stay in the position for a few minutes, often 3 – 5.
- Release the buttocks and pelvic floor muscles.
- Lower the buttocks to the ground.
- Do it again at least 10 times per set.
Over time, you may feel like you can perform more repetitions. That’s a sign your muscles have improved.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Squats.
This term is familiar, especially for those who work out. Squats are often known as the king of the whole-body movement. Among all the exercises, squats require the work of the largest muscles in the body. Therefore, it has the most significant pay-off in terms of strength and flexibility improvement. Recent studies show that squats can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and buttocks, further adding to its benefits.
A note for you is that before performing squats, please ensure you are in the correct posture. Otherwise, you will be at risk of harming your back and knee joints. If you never work out before, we recommend becoming comfortable doing bridge exercise or bird dogs first before practicing squats.
There are six steps to perform this exercise. You can get yourself a barbell if it makes you more comfortable.
- Stand while keeping your feet hip-width apart. Let them stay flat on the floor.
- Bend at the knees and lower the buttocks toward the floor. You can go lower as long as it makes you comfortable.
- Keep the back straight and tilted toward a bit. Keep your toes and knees in one line.
- Tighten the buttocks and pelvic floor and return to the beginning position at the same time.
- Do it again up to 10 repetitions per set.
- Rest for a few minutes before performing any additional set.
Though it delivers a wide range of benefits, choosing which type of squats to practice can be tricky. Wide-legged or deep squats make it harder to maintain the contraction of your pelvic floor. Since your main goal is to improve the pelvic floor muscles, narrow and shallow squats are the best choices.
4. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Split Tabletop.
Split tabletop is an effective way to boost the strength of your abs, shoulders, arms, and legs. Since it works with your lower hips, it can also improve your pelvic floor muscles. Many women choose to practice this exercise because it is simple and doesn’t require any equipment. Most importantly, it doesn’t pose any risk of damaging your back, hip, and joints.
There are four steps to split tabletop:
- Brace your abs and activate your inner thighs, legs touching.
- Slowly split your legs and let your knees fall outward until it reaches a comfortable position.
- Raise your back to the start.
- Repeat 10 – 15 times. It is best to perform at least three sets per day.
5. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Bird Dogs.
Bird dogs are the exercise that focuses on improving the body’s balance and stability. It requires all of your body to move, mainly abs, back, glutes, and hips. Therefore, it has positive effects on your pelvic floor muscles.
The exercise consists of five steps:
- Start on all fours. Keep your wrist under your shoulders and knee under your hip. Note that your back should be straight, and your neck should be neutral.
- Brace your core. Press your shoulder blade down to your back, all the way toward your hips.
- Straighten and raise your left leg as well as your right arm. Keep your pelvis and shoulders in a neutral position. Stay in the position for at least two seconds.
- Bend and lower both leg and arm back to the starting position while maintaining stability. Then switch to your right leg and left arm.
- Perform at least 10 times.
6. Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women – Kegels.
In case you have been suffering from bladder leakage or pelvic floor dysfunction for a long time, you might have heard about Kegels. Yes, this is the most popular exercise to improve those muscles because it helps you practice the contracting and relaxing process. It requires the exact muscles that control the urine flow to work.
The method doesn’t require any special equipment and consists of five steps:
- Stand or sit on a neutral spine.
- Inhale, relax your pelvic floor, then exhale.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for 5 seconds.
- Release after 5 seconds.
- Repeat the process 10 times.
Like the first exercise, “Squeeze and Release”, you also need to identify the exact muscles you will work with to perform Kegels. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be effective. Another thing to note is that Kegels also only work with your pelvic floor muscles, ignoring how other muscles affect your dysfunction. It is best to practice Kegels with at least one of the exercises above, such as Bird Dogs or Bridge.
In case you experience pain in your abdomen or back after a Kegels session, chances are you have been doing it wrong. Keep in mind that your abdomen, back, buttocks, and sides should remain loose despite contracting the pelvic floor muscles. Finally, you should not overdo Kegels’ exercise. If you train the muscles too hard, they might backfire and become even frailer.
So, Who Should Practice These Exercises? And Who Should Not?
All the exercises above benefit anyone who is suffering from bladder leakage due to pelvic floor dysfunction. As mentioned, they can significantly strengthen your lower muscles, manage your urination, and help you enjoy physical activities again. Even if you have no sign of the dysfunction yet, frequent practicing will reduce the future risk and save you from more severe illnesses, such as vaginal prolapse.
Please note that these exercises are not suitable if you are in the final stage of pregnancy or have just delivered. In case you are healing from surgery or an injury involving your back, abdomen, pelvis, hip joints, and knee, they are not for you as well.
According to the statistic, the occurrence of pelvic floor dysfunction increases steadily as women age. We can see that middle-aged women are the ones who suffer most from this condition. However, it is pretty challenging for this group to practice some of the exercises above. They also have to deal with muscle and joint pains – which are the most common symptoms in the menopausal transition.
What Is The Best Exercise For Pelvic Floor?
According to Alex Miller, a fitness instructor and women’s health specialist from Vancouver, Canada, this group has accessible and effective ways to train their pelvic floor muscles. Instead of straining their bodies, they can improve the condition by practicing 360-degree breathing or simply changing their posture. “But of course, you need to do it methodically”, Alex said. She introduced her scientific approach in her latest guide, “Pelvic Floor Strong“.
This program is the complete step-by-step guide on pelvic floor exercises for women. It contains simple yet most effective methods to heal pelvic floor dysfunction naturally. Most importantly, anyone, from pregnant and post-pregnant women to middle-aged ladies, will find their customized plan in Pelvic Floor Strong!
Right after the program was released, Linkingo received many requests to check it out. That’s why we have spent many hours researching and experiencing Alex’s work before publishing our review. This product has helped Cindy, one of our loyal readers, permanently eliminate pelvic floor dysfunction. It is also the savior of countless ladies around the world. If you are interested in Pelvic Floor Strong, you should definitely check it out. It is the most honest and comprehensive review on Pelvic Floor Strong you can ever find!
Our Final Thoughts
It comes to the end of our guide on pelvic floor exercises for women. Briefly, there are 6 exercises: squeeze and release, bridge, squats, split tabletop, bird dogs, Kegels. Among the six exercises mentioned, you can choose the best way for yourself.
Don’t forget to read our article on “how to strengthen the pelvic floor with 5 methods”
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