Women’s health is becoming increasingly recognized as an important area requiring attention, as many women suffer from a variety of conditions related to female-specific bodily functions. Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises, are becoming a common way for women to support their health, as pelvic floor muscles are essential for bladder and bowel health, as well as sexual function and comfort.
Why are the Pelvic Muscles Important?
The pelvic floor is made up of multiple muscles that extend from your pubic bone to your tailbone, and provide support for the bladder, womb, vagina, and rectum. The muscles must coordinate to do complex things, such as support during sex, assist with childbirth, and control urination and bowel movements.
The Benefits of Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
Strengthening the pelvic floor can have many positive impacts on a woman’s health:
- Reduced Risk of Bladder Leakage: Strengthening the pelvic floor can help reduce the risk of urinary stress incontinence, or bladder leakage.
- Increased Sexual Function: A stronger pelvic floor can lead to improved sexual pleasure, as muscle strength contributes to sexual arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction.
- Reduced Pelvic Pain: Strengthening the pelvic floor can help with pelvic pain and discomfort associated with medical conditions such as endometriosis and interstitial cystitis.
- Reduced Risk of Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which the pelvic organs drop out of place, leading to discomfort and pain. Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor can help hold these organs in place and reduce the risk of prolapse.
How to Exercise the Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere and anytime, such as while sitting, standing, or even while lying in bed. It is important to use correct form and engage the correct muscles, to get the full benefits of these exercises.
To exercise the pelvic floor, sit or stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. They key is to squeeze and lift the muscles in your pelvis, as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine or prevent passing gas. You can also practice by quickly squeezing and releasing the muscles.
These exercises can be done several times a day, and should be done regularly for the best results.
Strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor is essential for many aspects of women’s health, particularly for bladder and bowel health, as well as sexual function and comfort. Pelvic floor exercises can be done easily and are beneficial for a variety of conditions. Making these exercises part of your weekly routine can have numerous positive benefits for your health.
What exercises can I do to strengthen my pelvic floor?
1. Kegels: Do 10-20 repetitions of Kegel exercises every day. To perform Kegels, contract the pelvic floor muscles for a count of two to three seconds, then relax them for a count of two to three seconds.
2. Bridge Pose: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Push into your feet to raise your hips, hold for 10 seconds and then slowly lower to the floor.
3. Squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then send your hips back and down as if you are sitting in a chair. Hold that position for 10 seconds and then slowly rise up.
4. Pelvic Tilts: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Begin bending your hips and squeezing your abdominal muscles, then tilt your pelvis forward and squeeze your glutes. Hold for 10 seconds and then slowly lower to the start position.
5. Lunges: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with one foot and lower your body so your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Step back to start and switch sides. Perform 10-20 reps per side.
What are some good pelvic floor exercises for men?
1. Kegel Exercises. Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles for both men and women. To do a Kegel, tighten the muscles you would use to stop yourself from urinating, then hold and release them several times in a row.
2. Pelvic Tilts. Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, and tilt your pelvis up, hold, and then relax. Work up to doing 20 pelvic tilts each session.
3. Abdominal Bracing. Lie on your back, bring your legs to a 90-degree angle, and press your lower back into the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles to stabilize your vertebrae. Hold this position for 20 minutes twice each day.
4. Half Squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees until your thighs become parallel to the floor, then hold and return to the starting position. Do 10 reps per session.
5. Pelvic Bridges. Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, and raise your hips off the floor as far as possible, hold, and then relax. Do 20 reps per session.
What is the importance of doing pelvic floor exercises for men?
Pelvic floor exercises for men can help to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to a better functioning bladder, prevention of incontinence, improved sexual performance, and can help with post-prostate surgery rehabilitation. Additionally, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help with erectile dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, rectal prolapse, low back pain, and hip pain.