Pelvic Floor Muscles Exercises

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles that run from the public bone to the base of your spine. They are responsible for supporting bladder and bowl, and control the muscles that open and close the anus and urethra. In women, they also support the uterus and vagina. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause incontinence, as well as uterine prolapse in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

Kegels

Kegels are exercises that can be done throughout the day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to prevent incontinence. To activate your pelvic floor muscles, constrict your muscles like you are trying to stop the flow of urine.

To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, practice constricting your muscles for five seconds, then relaxing for five seconds. Work up to constricting your muscles for 10 seconds at a time. Perform five reps, and repeat five sets throughout the day. You can further tone your pelvic floor by doing elevator Kegels. Constrict your muscles, then constrict further for two counts: imagine pulling your muscles up into your body like an elevator going up three floors, then relax your muscles. Repeat five sets of 10 throughout the day.

Abdominal Work

A number of abdominal exercises also strengthen your pelvic floor. When done properly, abdominal exercises target muscles deep in the core, such as the pelvic floor. To engage your deep core muscles, always perform abdominal work with your belly button pulled in towards your spine.

One exercise you can use to strengthen your pelvic floor is the single leg plank. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor and your arms crossed over your chest. Straighten your right leg, keeping your knees together. Engage your abdominals as you lift your torso off the ground to form a bridge position, with your torso in line with your thighs. Slowly lower down and repeat with your left leg extended to complete one rep. Perform two sets of 15 to 12 reps, three times a week.

Pilates

Pilates has an emphasis on toning the muscles of your core, which includes your pelvic floor. Many of the movements in Pilates use the core muscles to keep the torso steady as the limbs move around the body, and this requires activation of the pelvic floor muscles. To reap the benefits of Pilates in strengthening your pelvic floor, practice Pilates three times a week.

One simple Pilates exercise you can easily do at home is the double straight leg. Lie on your back on a Pilates mat, with your hands behind your head and your legs straight, pointing up towards the ceiling. Lower both legs to a 45 degree angle with the ground, and return to starting position to complete one rep. Perform 10 reps.

About this Author

Louise Tremblay recently finished an M.Sc. in molecular and cellular biology in Ontario, Canada, with years of cancer research experience. She has experience writing articles and Web content on science, heath and fitness, diet and personal wellness.