Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles found in the floor or base of your pelvis that supports pelvic organs. If this group of muscles is not strong, you may experience issues such as a lack of bladder control or incontinence. To strengthen your pelvic floor, you should consider consulting with a physical therapist and performing daily exercises.
Although Mira does not currently cover physical therapy or OB/GYN visits, a member of our team can support you in locating a medical professional who can assist you with strengthening your pelvic floor. Additionally, Mira can help cover urgent care visits, lab testings, and up to 80% off prescriptions.
How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Below are recommendations to help you strengthen your pelvic floor and prevent potential side effects of a weak pelvic floor.
Visit a physical therapist
Pelvic floor physical therapy is typically recommended as a first-line of treatment for various pelvic disorders. It aims to better the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. By visiting a physical therapist, specifically one who specializes in pelvic floor therapy, an individual will obtain access to useful exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. The therapist may make manipulations on the muscles to improve their strength.
At a pelvic floor physical therapy appointment, the physical therapist will review your medical history and perform an orthopedic examination. Through this assessment, you will be provided with a personalized treatment plan that may include stretching or strengthening exercises, education, and ice or heat applications.
A physical therapist may also perform manual therapy on you during a session. External techniques that can be used include deep tissue massages on the area and nerve releases. Additionally, some internal techniques may involve trigger point therapy via inserting a finger through the rectum or vagina.
Perform recommended exercises daily
After seeing a physical therapist or doing some online research, performing daily exercises will be very beneficial in activating and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Check out some of these recommended exercises below.
- Kegels: This is a movement where you contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles. No equipment is needed to do this exercise; however, it may take some adjustment to locate these muscles. The best way to do so is to halt your urination midstream— these are your pelvic floor muscles. From here, contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds and then release for 5 seconds. It is advised to repeat this 10 times up to 3 times a day.
- Bridge: This is an exercise that is great for the glutes and activating the pelvic floor muscles. To do this movement, lie on the floor and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your arms at either side. Then inhale and push through your heels, prompting your hips to raise off of the floor. Pause for 1 to 2 seconds at the top, and then return your hips to the floor. It is recommended to complete 10 to 15 repetitions of the bridge exercise for 2 to 3 sets.
- Split tabletop: This movement aids in strengthening your hips and pelvic floor muscles. To carry it out, begin with your back on the floor and bend your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular and your shins parallel the floor. Slowly, start to split your legs so that each knee goes outwards, and then slowly raise them back to the start. Do 10-15 repetitions for 3 sets.
- Squats: Research has suggested that squats can help strengthen the pelvic floor and buttocks in young children. However, it is advised that you should only do squats to strengthen the pelvic floor after doing Kegels or bridges. To do a squat, you will stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees to bring the buttocks near the floor. Make sure that your knees align with your toes, and focus on tightening the buttocks and pelvic floor while standing up. You can do about 10 to 15 repetitions per set.
- Squeeze and release: This is supposed to be a rapid movement that enables the pelvic floor muscles to respond quickly. Situate yourself in a comfortable position and envision your pelvic muscles. From here, squeeze them quickly and release them without holding a contraction. Then take a 3 to 5-second rest. You can repeat this for 10 to 20 repetitions per set.
|Recommended Exercise||Recommended Repetitions||Recommended Number of Sets per Day|
|Bridge||10 - 15||2 - 3|
|Split Table Top||10 - 15||3|
|Squats||10 - 15||2 - 3|
|Squeeze and Release||10 - 20||3|
The Importance of a Strong Pelvic Floor
A strong pelvic floor plays a key role in upholding various functions within your body. To begin, it can help reduce back pain by prompting us to maintain our upright posture.
Additionally, it can help alleviate issues associated with the urinary system. With a strong pelvic floor, you will be able to maintain continence/control of your bladder, which will enable you to do more physical activities with confidence. It may also prevent the development of bladder prolapse, a painful bulge in the vaginal area, from forming.
Lastly, a strong pelvic floor can protect your reproductive system by preventing uterine prolapse, which causes the uterus to lose support and bulge out of the vagina. A side effect of this uterine prolapse includes lower back pain and pain during intercourse.
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Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Understanding your pelvic floor and the intricacies of strengthening it can be confusing to process. Thus, we have composed a few answers to the most commonly asked questions revolving around the pelvic floor.
How long does it take to strengthen your pelvic floor?
Most individuals notice some improvement in their pelvic floor strength after 4 to 6 weeks of consistent exercising. However, it can take some individuals up to 3 months for them to notice a significant change.
Are there any other tips available to strengthen your pelvic floor?
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles will have the most impact on the overall strength of the pelvic floor muscles. However, additional steps to enhance these muscles include eating a fiber-rich diet to avoid straining during bowel movements, becoming more active, seeking medical advice for a consistent cough, and avoiding smoking.
How do you determine if your pelvic floor needs to be strengthened?
Some common issues you may be experiencing if your pelvic floor is weak include leaking urine during physical exertions such as laughing or exercising, prolapse, constantly needing to use the bathroom or painful sex.
Individuals are also more at risk of having a weak pelvic floor if they have been pregnant and had children, have had a previous injury to the pelvic region, perform lots of heavy lifting, are overweight, and more. These are all important factors to consider in deciding whether or not your pelvic floor muscles are the issue at hand.
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How do I find my pelvic floor muscles?
Locating your pelvic floor muscles can be challenging. For women, an easy way to activate and locate them is by stopping your urination mid-flow. This should give you some sense of what it feels like to contract and relax these muscles. However, you should not do this method regularly as it can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Another way for women to find these muscles is by inserting a clean finger into their vagina and tightening the vaginal muscles around your finger.
For men, one way to find these muscles is via inserting a clean finger into the rectum and trying to squeeze. The catch here, though, is that you cannot tighten the muscles in the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks.
Do men need to strengthen their pelvic floor?
Yes, any male can improve their pelvic floor muscles, especially if he has incontinence issues following prostate cancer surgery or radiation therapy. Men can perform kegel exercises to improve bladder control and also lead to better sexual performance.
A strong pelvic floor can have various beneficial impacts on your overall well-being, as it can help you have better bladder control and sexual responses. By potentially seeking advice from a physical therapist and routinely doing the exercises mentioned above, you should be able to see improvements in the strength of your pelvic floor.
Madeline is a Senior at UCLA majoring in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Spanish. She's currently a Healthcare Research Analyst at Mira, writing content for the blog to help the public better understand certain medical issues, technologies, testings, and the importance of healthcare.