Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowel, uterus, intestines, and vagina. To find these muscles, stop urinating midstream. While essential, these muscles can become weak as you age, after childbirth, or because of obesity, chronic cough, or heavy lifting. As a result, you could experience incontinence, bowel leakage, uncontrolled flatulence, painful intercourse, or pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor exercises strengthen these important muscles and improve your health and quality of life.
Exercises That Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Boost the strength and function of your pelvic floor muscles by performing five exercises regularly.
Kegels are particularly helpful if you experience urine leakage when you sneeze, laugh, cough, or jump. It’s also versatile since you can do it while standing, sitting, crouching, or lying down.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds.
- Release for five seconds.
- Repeat 10 times, three times a day.
Give your pelvic floor, glutes, and hamstrings a workout using only your body and a yoga mat or towel.
- Lie down with your spine and feet flat, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, your arms straight at your sides, and your palms facing down.
- Inhale a breath and push it through your heels while raising your hips off the ground and squeezing your pelvic floor, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Hold for one to two seconds and rest.
- Complete 10 reps, pause 60 seconds and repeat once (or multiple times as your pelvic muscles get stronger).
Shallow, narrow squats keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and your toes pointed slightly out.
- Bend at the knees, lean slightly forward and descend toward the floor while keeping your back straight.
- Tighten your buttocks and pelvic floor muscles as you stand.
- Repeat 15 times.
4. Split Tabletop
Activate your pelvic floor and hips while doing this foundational Pilates move.
- Lie on the floor and bend your knees in the air so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Brace your abs so your inner thighs touch.
- Slowly split your legs until each knee falls comfortably outward.
- Return slowly to the start position.
- Complete three sets of 15 reps.
5. Bird Dog
Practice balancing and stabilizing your entire body while engaging your pelvic floor and other muscles.
- Assume an all-fours position with your back straight, your wrists under your shoulders, your knees under your hips, and your core braced.
- Straighten and raise your left leg and right arm, keeping your pelvis and shoulders neutral, and hold for two seconds before returning to the start position.
- Raise your right leg and left arm and hold for two seconds before returning to the start position.
- Complete 30 total reps.
When to Visit the Doctor About Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You may need to see your doctor, though, if you continue to experience symptoms or pain. Your gynecologist can help you determine if you need additional pelvic support.