Exercises to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a very important area of a woman’s body. It is composed of superficial muscles that contain different organs and that regulate the sphincters, among many other functions.
So read on, as today we’ll be showing you some exercises to strengthen this vitally important area.
First of all, we should answer a question that not all women are totally clear about: What exactly is the pelvic floor?
It is a set of muscles and ligaments that close up the lower abdominal cavity. It is the part that encloses the lower part of the pelvic cavity and is responsible for supporting the organs that are in this area (the bladder, uterus and rectum).
As a result, it is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of these important organs. This musculature is directly related to the job of containing urine, gases and feces.
Why is it important to strengthen the pelvic floor?
Throughout a woman’s life, this area of her body changes to adapt to the needs of each phase of her life. Two clear examples are pregnancy or menopause, although, of course, there are others.
Experts claim that 60% of women suffer problems in this area at some point in their lives.
How can these complications be avoided? The answer is the same as with other health conditions in our bodies: with exercise and good habits.
Prolapse (an internal organ moving or “falling” due to a relaxing of the muscles that were holding it) is the most serious trigger that can produce a weak pelvic floor. This, without a doubt, ends up being a major problem for women and affects both their private life, their self-esteem and their sexual activity.
It can also be the cause of urinary incontinence, discomfort, back pain and even sexual dysfunction.
Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
The best known are the Kegel exercises, which are recommended for incontinence problems. These consist of relaxing the muscles that contain the urine and then contracting them. In other words, it is like pretending that one is going to urinate. They can be done while lying down or sitting.
According to a leading US medical association, you should feel the muscles of the vagina, bladder, or anus become firm and move upwards. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel that they are firm, then you have done the exercise correctly.
To perform them, you must count to 8 when you are contracting the muscles. Then you should relax for 10 seconds before starting the exercise again. Doctors recommend that you repeat this ten times in the morning, afternoon and evening.
However, there are also other exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor that can be just as effective (or more so) than the ones we have just mentioned. Here are some of them:
- In a standing position, move your hip in side-to-side movements. As you move to one side, this should relax the sphincters. When you move to the other, the opposite happens.
- Hypopressive exercises: These are not recommended for pregnant women and patients with uncontrolled hypertension. First of all, adopt the lotus position while seated. Then exhale all the air that you can (this state is called “apnea”, and your ribs should stand out). After five seconds, inhale. Repeat this up to three times. This exercise focuses on the upper area of the pelvic floor.
Using an exercise ball
- On an exercise ball, put your hands under your waist and move from side to side, shifting your weight from one side of the pelvis to the other. You must feel the weight on the ischium bone, which is the back and lower part of the coxal (pelvic bone).
- While sitting on the ball, open and close your legs, while contracting your abdominal muscles. Every time you close your legs, try to contract the pelvic floor and expel the air.
- With your knees and the forearms on the floor, contract your abdominal muscles and raise the lumbar area bringing your chest towards the pubis area. Simultaneously, press down on your knees as if you were wanting to close your legs and activate the sphincters.
- While on the ball, inhale and fill your lungs and perform intra-abdominal pressure (pulling in your stomach) and, at the same time, close your legs. As you do this, it will cause the adductor muscles and the pelvic floor to stretch. Hold this position for 5 seconds. After that, release the air and relax.
- In a sitting position, first contract the muscles that are around the urethra and then those of the anal area, relaxing them backwards and forwards.
- While on the exercise ball, make bouncing movements up and down. This momentum will cause the muscles of the perineum to be strengthened.
Exercises for life
It is important to keep in mind that these exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor are recommended for all stages and cycles of life, in order to strengthen the area in question.
You must also remember that it is always important to consult your doctor before starting any of these routines and exercises.
If you’re suffering from any problem related to an inefficient functioning of the pelvic floor, then you should first of all consult your doctor.