Your pelvic floor is a section of muscle which runs from your pubic bone at the front of your body, and connects to your tailbone at the back. In women, this muscle acts as a kind of hammock, supporting the womb, bladder and bowel. In men, the pelvic floor supports the bladder and bowel.
It makes sense, then, that the pelvic floor plays an important role in healthy sexual function, as well as bladder and bowel control.
As we get older, it’s essential that both men and women take steps to keep their pelvic floor muscles strong. Some of the benefits of pelvic floor exercises are:
How to engage your pelvic floor
Before you start any pelvic floor therapy at home, it’s vital that you’re able to identify and engage this muscle group.
For men looking for the pelvic floor muscles, lie down in a comfortable position on the floor. Keeping the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen relaxed, squeeze the muscles around the urethra as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Another method is to try stopping the flow of urine next time you’re emptying your bladder — if the flow stops for a second or two you’re using the correct muscles. However, do not do this repeatedly as it can cause bladder problems if done too often.
Like men, women can engage their pelvic floor by attempting to pause the flow of urine while emptying their bladder. Women can also find these muscles by inserting a clean finger into their vagina and tightening the vaginal muscles around the finger.
Pelvic Floor Squats
Some experts believe that a weak pelvic floor can result from weak gluteal muscles. As this is the muscle group that balances out your sacrum, strengthening your glutes can assist in keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong.
Squats are an easy exercise that can be performed at home: simply stand with your feet hip-width apart, and toes facing slightly outward. Keep your feet flat on the floor and back straight as you bend your knees, going as low as is comfortable. Engage your buttocks and pelvic floor muscles as you push up to return to a standing position.
Pelvic Bridge Exercise
Bridge exercises are another great way to strengthen your pelvic floor at home. Like squats, these also strengthen your buttocks, as well as working your legs and core.
To perform a bridge, lie down on the floor and bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground, about hip-width apart. An easy way to measure the correct width is that the space between your knees should be about as wide as your fist. Engage your buttocks and pelvic floor muscles, then lift your hips and lower back up off the ground as high as is comfortable. Slowly lower back down and repeat up to ten times.
Kegel exercises are one of the more common types of exercise usually associated with pelvic floor strength. Kegels target the pelvic floor directly, and the benefit is that they can be performed anywhere, any time — sitting, standing, even at work or waiting for the bus.
Before starting your kegel exercises, be sure to empty your bladder. To begin, tense your pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of three, then release for a count of three. Repeat this up to ten times. As you continue to do these exercises over the next few days, see if you can work up to tensing the pelvic floor muscle for a count of ten.
The muscles in your abdomen, back and buttocks should remain loose throughout the exercise. If you feel any pain in these areas it could be a sign that you’re not performing the kegels correctly.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms as a result of a weak pelvic floor, do not feel embarrassed or ashamed. When performed regularly, the above exercises can help but if issues such as incontinence or pain are persisting, be sure to contact Katelaris Urology to discuss treatment options. We are here to help.