A lot of women never think about their pelvic floor until they get older and have kids.
That’s when an innocent sneeze makes you pee a little and you think, when did my pelvic floor get so weak?
Or you think something a little more along the lines of how pregnancy changed your body. Anyways – this doesn’t have to be your new life. If you learn how to strengthen your pelvic floor, you can get yourself back to normal.
Learn all about it below.
What Is Your Pelvic Floor?
You can’t look at an anatomy poster and find a muscle labeled “pelvic floor”. That’s because it’s a group of muscles that work together on common functions – like holding it in when you have to pee.
It’s also involved in childbirth, sex, and not peeing when you sneeze. All that to say – it’s an important group of muscles.
It consists of a sort of hammock that connects your spine to your pelvic bone. There’s tissue, nerves, and of course, muscles. Those are what you can strengthen to ease and better all the activities listed above.
But how do you strengthen them? Well, you’ve probably heard of Kegels. In fact, once you know what Kegels are, it’s impossible to read the word without doing them yourself.
But Kegels are a very small movement and can be hard to master. Especially if you just went through a traumatic birth delivery. You don’t want that movement pulling on any episiotomy stitches.
Let’s talk about the best pelvic floor exercises and when you should do them, below.
Who Should Strengthen Their Pelvic Floor?
Everyone should work on their pelvic floor, but there are some women that need it to be stronger than others. Like those who are pregnant and plan on giving birth vaginally.
Having a strong pelvic floor won’t make labor any less painful, but it’ll make pushing more efficient. It makes sense, right? The stronger the core and pelvic muscles are, the quicker and easier you can push the baby out.
Plus, exercising during pregnancy is good for everyone involved, mother and child.
Women who just gave birth can benefit too. When you give birth vaginally your tissue gets stretched out, but yes – it will return. You can help get your lower body back to (almost) where it was pre-pregnancy with pelvic floor exercises.
Finally, older women who are having incontinence problems should work on their pelvic strength. It will help them hold their pee in for longer and be able to retain normal bladder control.
Men have a pelvic floor too – but they’re much more likely to have the opposite of an incontinence problem, like prostate issues.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Now that you know what, why, and who, let’s address how. We’ll start out with the most popular methods and branch into some unique options after that.
You know that muscle you use when you have to stop peeing mid-stream suddenly? Maybe you heard a loud noise or have a shy bladder that doesn’t like to pee in public.
Either way, being able to stop yourself peeing midstream comes from a strong pelvic floor. And you should try it once or twice to identify which muscles you should be working with your Kegels.
But don’t make it a habit. If you mess with your pee flow regularly, it could lead to incomplete emptying. That will then lead to a nasty bladder infection, and no one wants that.
Once you’ve identified the right muscles and you’re out of the bathroom, practice squeezing those muscles and holding for a count of three.
You shouldn’t be squeezing your glutes, but you will feel a small tuck from your backside.
If you really can’t get the hang of it, women are going back to the ancient practice of using jade eggs. Like Rosie Rees’ jade eggs, which are egg-shaped pieces of jade you place in your vagina.
You walk around with them and you’ll have to clench your pelvic floor to keep it from falling out. Some people keep the same size egg forever, but others level up, so to speak.
The smaller the egg is, the harder it is to keep in. There isn’t as much vaginal tissue to hold a small egg in as there is a large one. You can learn when to go up in levels and down in sizes here.
The Best Thing about Kegels
By far the best and easiest thing about Kegels is that you can do them whenever and wherever. Standing in the line at the post office, sitting in your car waiting for your child’s pickup line, on an airplane.
Once you get the hang of them it’ll be a breeze. If you’re really determined to work on your pelvic health, get some garage sale circle colored stickers. Put them around the house/desk/car.
When you see the sticker, do a set of ten Kegels. That way you’ll remember to get your exercises in!
Other Pelvic Floor Exercises
If you want something you can (visibly) work on at the gym, squats and hip bridges also work your pelvic floor. They strengthen your core and glues as well, which make for a stronger lower body after all.
Doing a squat correctly is a lot harder than it looks. It’s worth hiring a private trainer for one or two sessions to make sure your alignment is in good condition so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself.
Basically, anything that engages your core will engage your pelvic floor. Kegels and the two exercises above are the most efficient ones and most worth your time.
Your Secret Exercise Routine
Are you always looking at other women and thinking, how do they do it all? They’re probably doing Kegels as you’re thinking that. Congratulations, now you know the women’s fitness secret: strengthen your pelvic floor.
If you do them regularly your sex life will be better, you’ll pee less when you sneeze and you may have an easier labor.
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