Pelvic Floor and How To Strengthen It
What is the Pelvic Floor and How Can I do Exercises for it?
The good news is…..pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere – while sitting, standing or lying down!
The benefits of exercise for your pelvic floor include:
- Reducing back pain, pelvic pain and pelvic girdle pain
- Improving and maintaining muscle tone
- Supporting good bladder and bowel health
- Supporting overall posture and back health
Your pelvic floor is a large group of muscles that supports your pelvic organs, bladder and bowel. By having a strong pelvic floor, it can improve bladder and bowel control, as well as decrease the likelihood of having any bladder leakage. As the pelvic floor is also part of the muscles known as your “core” with your lower abdominal and deep stabilising back muscles, it is really important in helping with back complaints and posture.
As the pelvic floor is a large muscle group, it can be weak, tight, in spasm and cause pain. It therefore responds to being trained just like any muscle, like your biceps or quads with active strength work.
As Osteopaths, we see many patients who have lower back pain, pelvic pain and pelvic girdle pain for many different reasons. This may be from arthritis, disc bulges (slipped disc), muscle spasms, and pregnancy to name a few. Part of the treatment for these conditions, as well as the “hands on” work we do, is prescribing exercises for the back muscles, as well as the pelvic floor.
Here are some tips for how to perform pelvic floor work:
- Imagine the pelvic floor muscles that sit on the inside of your pelvis as a sling running from your pubic bone (bone at the front of the pelvis) to the sacrum (tail bone).
- Focus on the pelvic floor muscles;
- at the front, gently lift and squeeze like you are trying to hold on when you need to urinate
- and from the back passage squeeze and elevate like you are avoiding passing wind
- Initially this may be challenging to locate the muscles, either at the front or the back. You may find one easier than the other or one may bring on some familiar pain too in the lower back or pelvic region. Note what this may be, so your osteopath can give you the right instructions to help correct this
When first beginning these exercises aim to lift and hold for 3 seconds at a time, building up to 10 seconds. Repeat initially about 5 times and build up to 10 repetitions. Aim for 3 sets per day.
Try to ensure that you are continually breathing while doing the exercises – it is really common that people forget to breathe while performing these exercises as they are in deep concentration and can’t manage to do everything at once – or cannot get the coordination to be able to do both! Just having the conscious awareness of breathing will help ensure that you still breathe! And don’t worry if you can’t get it first time around – with more practice, it will happen naturally and easily.
As Osteopaths, we can help you if you are having trouble with any of the following:
- Cannot feel which muscles you should be actively contracting and relaxing
- Cannot feel the squeeze and release at all
- Feel any downward pressure on the pelvic floor, or your bladder or bowel while you are doing or after your exercises
- Not seeing any progress in endurance of the hold or amount of repetitions you can perform of the exercise
- Have continued back pain, pelvic or pelvic girdle pain
- Notice symptoms getting worse or new symptoms arising
- Need help finding the “right” muscles to activate!
Lower abdominal and back strengthening exercises will generally also be prescribed to help improve and maintain back, abdominal and pelvic floor health. Ask us more today!
Written by Dr Gaby Nowak (Osteopath), Level 2 APMA Pilates Instructor
This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
Any other questions not answered here? Get in touch!