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Women Wellness

Pelvic floor exercises

Top 8 Pelvic Floor Exercises: A How-to Guide for Women

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 08/06/2024
Pelvic floor exercises

Do you rush to the bathroom at the slightest urge? Are you experiencing unpleasant leaks whenever you laugh, sneeze or cough? These may be indications that your pelvic floor muscles are weak, and you should exercise them to strengthen your pelvic floor. But how to do pelvic floor exercises? It remains a question, especially if you are a beginner.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, only 22% of UK women do pelvic floor exercises daily. If you have never done pelvic floor exercises before, relax because you have landed on the right deck. This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about it, especially how to do pelvic floor exercises. Take back control of your pelvic floor, ditch the leaks and sneeze tension-free! Let’s learn together. 

The Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises

Before you learn how to do pelvic floor exercises, it is important to understand why performing these exercises is important. These exercises have the following benefits:

  • Your pelvic floor muscles stay strong. 
  • Pelvic floor muscles hold the organs in place. 
  • Reduce the risk of organ prolapse (slipdown).
  • The tight pelvic floor muscles get relaxed.
  • There is no risk of urinary or faecal incontinence.
  • Sexual function improves, and you feel more content.
  • During pregnancy, prepare your muscles to hold the bay. 
  • Reduces pelvic and low back pain
  • Improves your posture
  • Improves overall health and wellbeing

To know if your pelvic floor muscles are weak read about the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.

How to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises? 

Adding specific exercises to target your pelvic floor muscles will increase their strength and promote relaxation. It will help reduce your pelvic floor disorder symptoms. Listed some top exercises that you can do at home to strengthen these muscles and feel better. Also

Here are the Top 8 Pelvic Floor Exercises with a How-To Guide:

  1. Heel Slides
  2. Kegel Exercises
  3. Bridging
  4. Marches
  5. Deep Breathing
  6. Happy Baby Pose
  7. Reverse Kegels
  8. Butterfly stretch

Let’s learn how to do these pelvic floor exercises correctly if you are a beginner 

1. Heel slides

Heel slides will help increase the strength of muscles in your pelvic region, as well as target deep muscles in the abdomen. This exercise lets you contract your pelvic floor muscles. Here is how to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Breathe in, fill your ribs with air, and then breathe out through your mouth.
  3. Connect your core and tighten your pelvis.
  4. Start sliding your heel away. Let it slide as far as it can.
  5. When it reaches its end, breathe in and bring the heel back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the other leg. 
  7. Aim for 10–12 slides per leg. 

Note: Do not let the core connection break while you are sliding your heels.

2. Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises

The “kegels” are the most important exercise that comes to mind when you think about how to do pelvic floor exercises. These are similar to quick contractions that activate your pelvic floor muscles and reduce symptoms such as urine and stool leakage. Here’s how to do kegels.

  1. With bent knees and flat feet, lie down on the floor or on a pillow. 
  2. Imagine and engage your pelvic floor muscles with your mind (the muscle that you felt while stopping your urine stream).
  3. Breath in and then breathe out.
  4. When you breathe out, pull your belly button in and upward. 
  5. Quickly contract your pelvic floor muscles for at least 1 second, and then release. 
  6. Keep breathing while you contract; relax the muscles.
  7. Do these contractions 10 times, and then rest for 10 seconds.
  8. Aim for 2-3 sets per session.

3. Bridging

Bridging

Bridging targets the muscles in your pelvis, abdominal region, spine and buttocks. It helps maintain pelvic stability. Perform bridging like this:

  1. Lie down on the floor or on a pillow with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Pull your belly button up and down; connect your core.
  3. Lift your pelvis up towards the ceiling.
  4. Squeeze your buttocks at the top.
  5. Hold for 2-3 seconds, then loosen your buttocks and get back to the starting position.
  6. Rest for 2-3 seconds, and then repeat.

Note: Do not hold your breath; keep breathing throughout the exercise. 

4. Marches

By promoting contractions in your pelvic floor, marches, also known as toe taps, increase the stability of your core muscles. Here is how to do pelvic floor exercises, i.e., marches:

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the surface.
  2. Take a breath and fill your lungs with air.
  3. Then, breathe out through your mouth and naturally compress your ribs.
  4. Pull your belly button up and down to engage your core.
  5. Slowly lift one of your legs into a tabletop position. 
  6. Then put this leg back into the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the other leg.

Note: Keep your core muscles engaged and do not stop breathing. 

Exercises for tight pelvic floor muscles

Following is a relaxation exercise for pelvic floor muscles:

5. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

Engaging the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your lungs and abdominal organs, is a key component of deep breathing. It encourages stress relief. Here is how to perform deep breathing: 

  1. Sit or lie on the floor, bending your knees. Relax and connect your mind with your body.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  3. Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds, then let your belly rise.
  4. Hold for 1 second.
  5. Then exhale slowly for 4 seconds, allowing the chest to stay still and the belly to fall back. 

Note: Do not perform this exercise if you are pregnant.

6. Happy Baby Pose

This pose aims to stretch your pelvic floor muscles to release their tension. Start by:

  1. Lying on the floor with bent knees and feet flat on the surface
  2. Raise both your knees towards your belly and let the soles of your feet face the ceiling.
  3. In this position, grab your feet.
  4. Let your knees widen, then bring them towards your armpits. Imagine you’re opening your eyes.
  5. Feel the stretch and stay in this position for a few breaths.
  6. You can also rock from side to side.

7. Reverse Kegels

Unlike quick kegels, which promote contraction, reverse kegels allow you to relax or lengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This is how you can do it.

  1. Lay comfortably on the floor with your knees bent. 
  2. Take a deep breath and connect your pelvic floor with your mind.
  3. Imagine yourself pushing out of your pelvic floor, just like you’re trying to pass the pee.
  4. Push for 3–4 seconds, and then relax.

Note: Do not hold your breath during this exercise.

8. Butterfly Stretch

This stretch lengthens the muscles on the inner thighs, promoting relaxation in your pelvic floor. The instructions are:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight.
  2. Let your knees fall on the sides and bring the soles of your feet together, facing each other.
  3. Place your hands on your knees.
  4. Gently put pressure on the knees and let them flap, just like butterfly wings.
  5. Feel the stretch in your groyne and inner thighs.
  6. Hold this position for a few breaths.
  7. Let your legs straighten. 
  8. Bring yourself back to the butterfly position, and repeat.

Now that you have successfully learned the basics of how to do pelvic floor exercises, let’s move on to the dos and don’ts of these exercises.

Do’s and Don’ts of Pelvic Floor Exercises

Do’s:

  • Begin after emptying the bladder.
  • You can aim for 8–10 repetitions for each exercise.
  • Perform 3-5 times a day for better results.
  • Perform in a sitting or lying position.
  • Consider using biofeedback or electrical stimulation for a better idea of muscle engagement.
  • Seek guidance from your physical therapist.

Don’ts

  • Tighten your abdominal muscles, thighs or buttocks.
  • Overexercise
  • Increase the repetition or number of sets too quickly.
  • When exercising, ignore abdominal discomfort in your abdomen or back. It may indicate that you are doing something wrong.
  • Expect quick results.

Also read: What is Pelvic Floor Therapy? Everything You Need to Know

Tips on how to do pelvic floor exercises.

Here are some easy tips to add to your learning on “how to do pelvic exercises.”. Follow these tips for better results:

  • Find your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urine or gas.
  • Do simple exercises: squeeze, hold, and release.
  • Slowly increase these exercises’ duration and sets.
  • Incorporate exercises into your day, such as sitting or watching TV.
  • Breathe deeply while doing exercises.
  • Focus on how your muscles feel.
  • Track changes in your body and notice the symptoms change.
  • Talk to a doctor if you need help.

Bottomline

In conclusion, you’ve learned how to do these 8 pelvic floor exercises effectively through this beginner’s guide. By grasping the significance of these exercises and learning their performance, you’re taking proactive steps towards a healthier pelvic floor. Whether you’re tackling symptoms or simply aiming for better well-being, incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine can make a real difference. You must understand if you have pelvic floor prolapse, to do the correct exercises. Remember to start slowly, listen to your body, and reach out to a healthcare professional if needed. With consistent effort, you’ll strengthen your pelvic floor and enhance your overall quality of life. Keep practising those pelvic floor exercises and enjoy the benefits they bring!

FAQs About the Pelvic Floor Exercises:

How to do pelvic floor exercises correctly?

To do pelvic floor exercises correctly, engage your pelvic floor muscles without tightening your hips, thighs or abdominal muscles. Try to engage your mind and body. Also, perform 8-10 repetitions of exercises 3-5 times a day. 

Can I do pelvic floor exercises at home?

Yes, you can do pelvic floor exercises at home. You can do marches, bridging and kegels if your pelvic muscles are weak. For tight muscles, prefer the happy baby pose and butterfly stretch. Read the blog “How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises? A Beginner-Friendly Guide”

Can kegels make my pelvic floor muscles tight?

After childbirth, several women report weakness in their pelvic floor muscles and symptoms like urine leaking or increased urge to pee. Kegels help make the pelvic floor muscles a little tighter and stronger. 

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