Why Pelvic Floor Health Matters: Exercises and Benefits in Women’s Health

Feeling good and improving your physique is not the only reason fitness should be at the top of your bucket list. Different exercises can solve various medical problems that many struggle with, such as headaches, bone diseases, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and many more.

One area of physical health that is often overlooked, particularly among women, is the pelvic floor. It is a group of muscles that form a “sling” or “hammock” at the base of the pelvis that supports your vital organs.

It is essential to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you have pelvic floor dysfunction. This article is not a substitute for medical advice but for informational purposes only. In this article, we will discuss the importance of pelvic floor exercises and how you can use them to improve your overall fitness and health.

Maintaining healthy pelvic floor muscles is crucial for both men and women for overall health and well-being. Along with your core, the pelvic floor muscles allow your body to absorb pressure and protect your spine and internal organs.

Here are the functions of the pelvic floor muscles:

  • Supports the pelvic organs such as the bladder, rectum, and uterus (in women)
  • Control normal bladder and bowel movement
  • Maintains healthy sexual function
  • Provide stability to the pelvis

Weak, injured, or overly tight pelvic floor muscles can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction, resulting in discomfort, inability to hold urine or bowel, pain during sex, decreased libido, and organ prolapse.

Across the globe, millions of men and women suffer from pelvic pain, incontinence, and other pelvic floor disorders. In fact, 1 out of 3 women are affected by pelvic floor dysfunction, often after childbirth, which disrupts the quality of their lives.

Unfortunately, many women don’t get the proper treatment they need due to the lack of awareness and understanding of their condition, even among healthcare professionals. And because it is often linked to pregnancy and childbirth, many think pain, incontinence, and other pelvic issues are part of the transition to motherhood.

This shouldn’t be the case if we could include some training for the pelvic floor muscles at least twice a week. Studies show that pelvic floor training and core stability exercises can significantly decrease the risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction.

You may only see subtle movements when performing a pelvic floor exercise, but it’s perfectly fine because it usually takes time to get used to training your pelvic floor.

Your goal is to enhance your muscle control and coordination in the pelvic region so that the pelvic floor muscles will fire and engage properly when needed.

Pelvic floor exercises are designed to bring awareness to your pelvic floor activity and pelvic positioning and bring back mobility to your pelvis. Aside from targeting the pelvic floor, they can also improve your posture and prevent the development of back pain.

These exercises can be added to any home and gym workout routine.

Kegel exercise is an isometric exercise of the pelvic floor muscles. The key to performing kegel exercises is to find the right muscles. To find the right muscles, imagine urinating and stopping midstream. Once you find your pelvic floor muscles, you can start with the exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on a bed or yoga mat
  2. Imagine sitting on a marble and tightening your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble.
  3. Contract your pelvic floor muscle for 5 seconds. Breathe normally.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position and completely relax your pelvic floor for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Do this for 10 reps at least 3 times per day.

The idea is to rotate your pelvis backward so that the back part of your pelvis lies flat and touches the floor. You can do this by imagining that you are taking your belly button and drawing it on the floor.

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How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a bed or a yoga mat
  2. Bend both knees, so your feet are flat on the ground
  3. Relax your arms by your side
  4. Take a deep breath, and press your pelvis back into the floor as you exhale.
  5. Keep your core engaged. Hold the position for 6 seconds
  6. Slowly release the pelvic tilt and return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for 6 to 10 repetition

Remember, don’t push with your legs. Instead, you need to isolate the movement using your pelvis.

The pelvic clock is a progression of your pelvic tilt exercise. Imagine that your pelvis is the center of a clock, as if there’s a clock lying flat on your pelvis. 6’o clock is your tailbone, while 12 o’clock is at your belly button. Your hip bones are at nine and three.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a bed or a yoga mat
  2. Relax your neck and shoulders
  3. Bend both knees, so your feet are flat on the ground
  4. Place your fingertips at the top of your pubic bone so you can feel the movement of the pelvis
  5. Gently tilt your pelvis backward, and bring your belly down to your spine. This will pelvic tilt will position your pelvis down at 12 o’clock.
  6. Gently move back up, tilting your pelvis forward and creating a small arch on your back. This pelvic tilt will position your pelvis up at 6 o’clock.
  7. Repeat 5 to 10 times, going back and forth between the 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock positions.
  8. As you get better, start moving your pelvis in a clockwise direction.
  9. You can also switch directions as you like.
  10. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 reps for 2-3 sets.

This exercise engages the inner thigh and lower core muscles, providing more support for the pelvic area.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a bed or a yoga mat
  2. Bend both knees, so your feet are flat on the ground
  3. Place a ball or a yoga block between your knees and thigh.
  4. Perform a pelvic tilt
  5. Squeeze the ball and hold it for 6 seconds
  6. Keep your core engaged, and do not hold your breath
  7. Relax and go back to the starting position
  8. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps

The pelvic bridge is an excellent exercise for strengthening the lower back, glutes, and core muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on your back on a bed or a yoga mat
  2. Bend both knees, so your feet are flat on the ground
  3. Engage your core muscles and pull your belly button towards your spine.
  4. Lift your hips off the floor. Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and press down through your heels.
  5. Hold this position for 6 seconds and slowly lower back down to the starting position
  6. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps

To make the exercise more challenging and fire the muscles of the pelvis and thigh, you can add the ball squeeze while performing the pelvic bridge.

Here‘s a plan that will help you build a strong core and glutes:

Bird dog exercise improves stability and core engagement. Furthermore, it also trains your balance and coordination, making it a great low-impact workout for people of all fitness levels.

How to do it:

  1. Start on all fours with your wrist under your shoulders and knees under your hips
  2. Keep your spine and neck neutral.
  3. Brace your core, and draw your shoulder blades down your back towards your hips
  4. To start the exercise, simultaneously straighten and raise your left leg and right arm.
  5. Hold for 2 seconds
  6. Bend and lower your leg and arm down back to the starting position.
  7. Switch and raise your right leg and left arm.
  8. Hold for 2 seconds
  9. Bend and lower your leg and arm back to the starting position
  10. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps

Strong and healthy pelvic floor muscles are essential to your health and fitness that shouldn’t be neglected. Performing pelvic floor exercises can help to improve bladder and bowel control, enhance sexual function, and prevent pelvic organ prolapse.

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Bert Bauzon is a licensed physiotherapist specializing in spinal care and sports rehabilitation. He writes articles and books about exercise science and health care.

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