If you’ve ever found yourself leaking a little when you laugh, cough or sneeze, then please know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that around one in three women will experience pelvic floor disorders of some kind in their lifetime. And yet there are still many women who never give their pelvic floor a second thought from day to day. Let’s change that, shall we? Here is a really quick guide to the top exercises to keep your pelvic floor happy.
What is the pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles and connective tissues that literally form a ‘floor’ to support the pelvic organs- the urethra, bladder, intestines and rectum. For women, the pelvic floor also supports the uterus, cervix and vagina.
Why do we need to do pelvic floor exercises?
Let us just say, your pelvic floor is vital for daily functions. These muscles not only support the pelvic organs allowing you to control your bladder for one, but they also contribute towards sexual health and function- including arousal and orgasm. The pelvic floor also helps to stabilise the torso and hips when you walk too.
Who needs to do pelvic floor exercises?
Pregnancy and vaginal birth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to a range of symptoms, varying in severity- from pain to pelvic organ prolapse. But there are other conditions that can cause this weakening too, and it’s actually not just women who benefit from regular pelvic floor exercises.
Keeping your pelvic floor happy should be something we all care about- regardless of age, gender or parental status!
What are the best pelvic floor exercises to do?
Luckily, pelvic floor exercises are fairly easy to do, can be done anywhere and at any time- and nobody will ever know you’re doing them. There’s no time like the present, so what you are you waiting for?!
- Find your pelvic floor muscles. Next time you go to the loo, practise stopping the flow of urine for a moment or two. Those are your pelvic floor muscles. Cool, huh?
- Lying down. Lie down and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, draw your abdomen in and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles just like you did on the loo. Hold for one or two seconds before releasing, and repeating.
- Standing up. From standing, imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas. You’ll notice you’re squeezing your rectum too. This is important because as we mentioned earlier, the pelvic floor muscles support all of the pelvic organs- including the rectum. So you need to make sure each muscle contraction is a full contraction.
- Toe taps. Lying on the floor with knees bent and feet down, draw your pelvic floor up as you exhale, then lift one leg to a table top position. Slowly lower the leg down, and repeat on the other side.
- Heel slides. Again, lying down with knees bent and feet on the floor, draw your pelvic floor up as you exhale. Slowly slide one heel away from your body, keeping the core engaged. Repeat on the other side.
That’s it. You really don’t need any fancy equipment, and you can perform these exercises while sitting at a red traffic lights, whilst brushing your teeth, or while you put your makeup on. Make it a new habit today, and your pelvic floor will thank you for years to come!