Why, When & How To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Let me start by saying that pelvic floor is a neglected group of muscles. Nobody talks about it, most women don’t even know where it is. They don’t realize that a pelvic floor needs significant recovery following pregnancy and childbirth.

The pelvic floor muscles are a stratum of muscles that extend from the pubic bone to the tailbone. It is structured like a muscular trampoline. The pelvic floor muscles are frequently overlooked, even though they are some of the most significant muscle groups in your body, contributing extensively to a sexual reaction, guiding a child’s head down the delivery canal, and giving support to your bladder, bowel, and uterus. A physically powerful and well functioning pelvic floor aids in holding a full bladder. Your pelvic floor muscles contract to prevent the leakage of urine when you laugh, sneeze, cough and move. Can you picture what would ensue if these muscles weren’t working properly? If you have experienced weakness in your pelvic floor after having a baby, you most likely can understand how important these muscles are.

1 in 3 women will experience issues with the pelvic floor in their lifetime. And here is a story. I recently came back from Costa Rica. I had a blast surfing, doing nothing and enjoying the beach. One of the days I decided to do a horseback riding excursion. My group had a mom in her 50s and two of her teenage daughters. This was my first time horseback riding, but after a few minutes, I got the gist of it. How to work my core, legs and all different muscles involved. It’s a workout! We would go a little faster on one occasion and as we went on about it, my mom friend admitted to something. She had completely peed herself during the ride. She didn’t make a huge deal out of it, but I felt bad for her. A weak pelvic floor does not belong in a saddle. These muscles need to be strengthened after pregnancy, or you will suffer the consequences later in life; just like she did. Even if you do not have leakage, the constant urge to urinate or heaviness in your vagina right after having babies, it does not mean that everything is fine.
How Do You Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

You need to do the exercises every day. Follow the following steps in conducting these exercises and you’ll have a strong pelvic floor before you know it.

  • The first set of exercises that can help strengthen these muscles is known as slow pull-ups or long squeezes. You can perform these exercises while sitting, standing or lying down. With your knees slightly apart, slowly tighten your pelvic floor muscles under the bladder as hard as you possibly can. Hold this position and count to five before relaxing
  • Next, you need to perform the fast pull-ups or short squeezes. You can do this while sitting, standing or lying down, with knees slightly apart, tighten your pelvic floor muscles under the bladder as hard as you can but this time, hold for a short period of time before relaxing and then repeat this motion faster than you did when performing the slow pull-ups or long squeezes.
  • The plan is to do a long squeeze followed by ten short squeezes. Repeat this cycle at least eight times. Each cycle should only take about five minutes.
  • Aim to do the above exercise at least three times a day. For best results, perform these exercises in different positions; while sitting, while lying down and when standing as well.
  • As your muscles become stronger, increase the length of time you hold each slow pull-up or long squeeze. You will be doing very well if you can hold for 10 counts equivalent to 10 seconds each time.
  • Please note that when performing these exercises you should not squeeze any other muscles simultaneously, such as the muscles in your back, thighs or buttocks.
    Some individuals have difficulty remembering to perform their exercises. A chart or reminder on your phone can help you keep tabs of your routine.
    Try to get into the habit of performing exercises at other times too whilst going about everyday activities such as brushing your teeth, waiting on the kettle to boil, when washing up, etc.

You might find it helpful to do a ‘squeeze’ and pull just before you do something that would otherwise cause a leak, such as coughing or lifting. Engaging levator ani (one of the pelvic floor muscles) is crucial here.
After several weeks of exercising, your muscles will start to feel stronger. You may find that you can squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for much longer without the muscles feeling tired.
Devices
If the above list seems too much for your mommy brain, try special devices designed specifically for working out your pelvic floor. I personally use Elvie and I love it! You connect your device to your phone and follow the instructions. It’s that easy and you will actually know if you are doing the exercise correctly because Elvie will let you know. Good luck ladies!

About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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