Exercises You Can Practice To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

When you're a kid people talk about adulthood-related issues like getting a job, paying bills, having grandkids, and stuff like that. No one ever mentions that there's a good chance you might accidentally start wetting yourself at some point. This unwelcome phenomenon is actually extremely common as we age and as bodies go through various traumas. Urinary incontinence (otherwise known as unintentional peeing) is often caused by a weakening pelvic floor, but that's not the only unfortunate side effect. In fact, bowel function can also be compromised. So, not only could you wind up wetting your pants (typically just a dribble, fortunately) if the pelvic floor muscles become too weak, but errant poop is also a strong possibility. 


Then there's the risk that vital things like the uterus, colon, vagina, and bladder won't be held in their proper place. This is called prolapse, says the NHS. It is a very big problem that can require surgery if it gets too bad. 

Those aren't the only symptoms of pelvic floor problems, however. In fact, lower back pain, trouble fully emptying the bladder, pain during sex, and muscle spasms in the area are a few lesser-known symptoms, per Healthline. Let's find out how the pelvic muscles sustain damage and what to do when that happens.

This is how pelvic muscles are weakened

Most people focus on the biceps, quads, and glutes when doing their muscle-building exercises, but the pelvic floor muscles that control the vagina, rectum, and bowel are every bit as important in the long term. Per The Royal Women's Hospital, this group is made up of ligaments and muscles that provide much-needed support and strength to the bowel, bladder, and even the uterus. They start in the front of the pelvic area attached to the pubic bone, then work their way back to the tailbone.


The pelvic floor muscles take a lot of abuse. Many women report incontinence issues after pregnancy because of all the pressure that carrying babies puts on the pelvis. Women who deliver babies vaginally also are at higher risk of pelvic muscle issues, especially if it's a taxing delivery or a really large baby, says The Royal Women's Hospital. But even people who never carry a pregnancy can wind up with problems, especially those who deal with constipation because all of the extra straining puts stress on the muscles. People who are overweight and those who do jobs that require above-average amounts of heavy lifting are also at risk. Then there's the fact that aging and hormone changes therein can affect the body, as well. When the pelvic muscles are weakened, all it takes is one good sneeze to cause a little pee to come out, leaving many people wearing panty liners to curb the effects.


This exercise will help to regain pelvic muscle strength

Repetition is important to increasing strength in any type of muscle. To beef up those pelvic muscles start by completely emptying the bladder, MedlinePlus says. Then, tighten the muscles in question. Hold them in that tightened position for 10 seconds, then relax them for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Aim to do the entire series between three and five times every day.


Although a lot of people will want to see immediate results, like any exercise it takes time to strengthen the pelvic floor. MedlinePlus says it typically takes four to six weeks, but in reality, it could be three months or more! They also say to avoid over-exercising the area because that can actually make the problems worse. Instead, try to get into a routine of doing the exercises at the same times every day (driving to work, while eating lunch, watching television at night, and so on). No one will have any idea what's going on, as these exercises can be done while sitting down, lying down, or standing up.

This exercise will add power to the pelvic floor

The Royal Women's Hospital also says that it's critical to do exercises to add "power" to the pelvic floor muscles. This is slightly different than the previous strength exercise. To do this, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles both strongly and quickly, they say. Then, let go immediately instead of holding the squeeze. Allow a few seconds of rest, then do it again until the muscles start to tire out. This is usually after 10 to 20 repetitions. Like with the other exercise, perform this one about three times every day.


For any of these exercises, it's recommended to switch up the position from time to time. So, maybe do them while sitting, standing, on the hands and knees, lying down, etc. The important thing for this particular exercise is that the pelvic muscles should have the sensation of being lifted upward during the clenching process.

Other simple exercises that improve pelvic floor health

There are some conventional exercises that actually make a big difference in pelvic floor strength. In particular, squats and lunges are good to incorporate into a regular workout. When doing these consciously contract the pelvic muscles when you begin each move, then contract again at the bottom, then again once you get back up to the starting position, women's health expert Marcy Crouch told Healthline.


Believe it or not, breathing exercises can also help out with this annoying issue. Healthline says to either sit down or lie on a yoga mat on the floor. Consciously work to relax the body, then put a hand on the chest and the other hand on the stomach. Healthline says to then inhale via the nose, breathing in for a few seconds. Then, exhale slowly and repeat the whole thing a few times. Over time, this should help to better connect the pelvic floor muscles with the diaphragm, making everything stronger and more functional.