Pelvic Floor Muscles and Exercises : All You Need To Know

What are pelvic floor muscles?

Pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs (bowel, bladder and uterus in women and bowel, bladder in men). Consider it as a mini trampoline with three holes in it (one for each organ) and can move up and down.  It looks like this:

pelvic floor muscles
pelvic floor muscles

 

Main Functions of These Muscles:

  1. Organ support – Bowel, bladder and Uterus are supported against gravity by these muscles. 
  2. Stability – These are one of the muscles forming our inner core and hence very important for pelvic and lower back stability.
  3. Sphincteric function – These muscles control the opening of both urethra (from where urine comes out) and rectum ( from where faeces and gas comes out).
  4. Sexual Function – These muscles are responsible for sexual arousal and play important role in orgasms. In some cases, they can be responsible for painful intercourse.
  5. Circulation – These help in pumping the blood from lower body, back to heart.

 

Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction

This is the inability to contract or relax the pelvic floor muscles correctly. These muscles may tighten or loosen with time causing various health problems. Below are the reasons that may lead to abnormality in pelvic muscles.

  • Not using them at all or by overworking them (heavy lifting at work or the gym)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Obesity.
  • Excessive pressure in bowel during constipation.
  • previous injury to the pelvic region (e.g. a fall, surgery or pelvic radiotherapy)
  • Growing older – these muscles tend to loosen up as we grow.
  • Chronic cough or sneeze (e.g. due to asthma, smoking).

 

Problems Caused by Tighter Pelvic Floor Muscles:

  1. Difficulty in passing urine – the pelvic floor muscles are not able to relax completely when we urinate and hence causing a block in passage.
  2. Urge to urinate even when bladder is not full – not able to empty the bladder completely each time because of tighter muscles.
  3. Pain in lower back.
  4. Difficulty in intercourse – vagina doesn’t open up much because of tighter pelvic floor muscles and causes pain during intercourse.
  5. Problems in pregnancy and childbirth.
  6. Difficulty in emptying the bowel

 

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Exercises:

  1. Abdominal Breathing:

    1. Lay down straight on a mat.
    2. Place one hand on your chest and one on the abdomen.
    3. Now inhale deeply and while moving your breath down to your abdomen, try to relax pelvic muscles.
    4. Hold there for few seconds and then exhale.
    5. Repeat this 7-8 times.

      abdominal breathing
      abdominal breathing

 

  1. Stretch and Release:

    1. Sit on your heels and place your forehead in front of on the mat.
    2. Now inhale and try relaxing muscles around your tail bone.
    3. Hold it for few seconds and then exhale.
    4. Repeat this 4-5 times.

      stretch and release
      stretch and release

 

  1. Abdominal Stretch

    1. Lie down on your stomach.
    2. Place your both your hands near to head and then lift yourself with the help of hands. Keep thighs on the floor and lift till your abdomen.
    3. Lift as much as you can and stay there for few seconds.
    4. Come back and repeat the same.
    5. Do it for few more times.

      abdominal stetch
      abdominal stretch

 

  1. Hip Stretch

    1. Lie down on your back, with your knees bent and legs in the air like in chair position.
    2. Place one leg on the other thigh and try pulling that thigh towards your chest with the help of your hands. It will stretch your hip muscles.
    3. Stay in that position for 30 seconds and then repeat it with other leg.

      hip stretch
      hip stretch

 

Problems Caused by Loose Muscles:

  1. Unable to control urine or farces. It can be a little embarrassing sometimes.
  2. Doesn’t reach the stage of orgasm.
  3. Problems in pregnancy – muscles are not strong enough to hold the baby.

 

Exercises:

  1. Kegel:

    kegel is the best practice to use your pelvic floor muscles more often. You can do kegel in any position or anytime even when you are brushing your teeth. follow these simple steps to practice kegel.

    1. Sit in any comfortable position.
    2. Now focus on your pelvic muscles and try to squeeze them. Hold for 4-5 seconds and then release.
    3. Repeat these 10 times and do these 3 times a day.

 

  1. Squats:

    Squats is the most common workout yet very effective.

    1. Stand straight with your hands on your waist or straightened in front(parallel to ground). Feet should be shoulder width apart.
    2. Now go down to the chair position till your thighs are perpendicular to your legs and come back to standing position.
    3. Repeat this 10-15 times.

      body weight squats workout
      body weight squats workout

 

  1. Bridge:

    1. Lie down on you back with your knees bent.
    2. Place your hands on the side close to your body.
    3. Try lifting your back and hips above the ground as much as you can.
    4. Come back to normal positions and repeat.
    5. Do this 10-15 times.

      pelvic shift stretching for gaining height fast
      pelvic shift stretching for gaining height fast

 

  1. Split tabletop:

    1. lie down on your back with your knees bent and legs up in the air like chair position.
    2. Now try moving your thighs towards floor, keep your legs parallel to the floor.
    3. Repeat these 10 times.

      split table top
      split table top

 

  1. Bird dog:

    1. Sit in the dog position, with your back straight, hands on the floor (under the shoulder and shoulder width apart) and knees on the ground.
    2. Lift your one leg and straighten it in the air and at the same time lift the opposite hand and straighten it.
    3. Come back to previous position and do the same with opposite leg and hand now.
    4. Repeat these 10 times.

      bird dog position
      bird dog position

 

Work on your pelvic floor muscles regularly to keep them healthy. Damage to these muscles is more seen in women due to child birth and menopause. So, you must practice these exercises specially Kegel during pregnancy. Studies have shown that it eases the process of child birth  which needs these muscles to be completely relaxed. Also, the mending of muscles after birth is easier if you are doing these exercises.

Hope you find this article useful. Feel free to ask any questions or give any feedback/suggestions.

 

Stay healthy! keep Smiling!

Amanda

Amanda

Amanda is a certified nutritionist and fitness yoga trainer, and writer in the areas of health, fitness and nutrition.
Amanda

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