Like any other muscle in your body, the pelvic floor can be strengthened by exercise. It’s important for both men and women to engage in daily pelvic floor exercises throughout adulthood, but it’s particularly beneficial for women recovering after childbirth and men recovering after prostate surgery. Whether you’re recovering from childbirth or surgery, or doing it for general health, pelvic floor exercises are a good addition to your exercise routine.
To ensure you’re engaging your pelvic floor correctly, we’ve put together a short explanation of how your pelvic floor works and some of our top tips for exercising correctly!
The pelvic floor is the layer of muscles attaching from your pubic bone to the tailbone, forming a hammock or sling, and it moves like a trampoline. These muscles support the bladder, bowel and uterus, and provide lumbar-pelvic stability.
When the pelvic floor is strong, it supports the pelvic organs and prevents problems like incontinence and prolapse of the bladder, bowel and uterus. Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity and simply getting older can affect the strength of the pelvic floor. If the pelvic floor muscles have been weakened, you can experience bladder leakage when making sudden movements such as sneezing or coughing.
The pelvic floor muscles are the same muscles used to stop the flow of urine when you are going to the toilet. Keep your thighs relaxed and don’t tighten your buttocks; instead, try focusing on your pelvic floor muscles. You’ll know you’re doing it properly when you feel a gentle sensation of squeezing and lifting. Don’t squeeze too hard either; you want to be working at 3/10 maximum contraction. As a guide, if you suck your belly in as hard as you possibly could, you would be working at 10/10 effort. The pelvic floor is different from other muscle groups, less is more.
So, think of your pelvic floor as a clock face. In a clockwise direction, imagine your pubic bone is 12 o’clock, your right hip is 3 o’clock, your tailbone is 6 o’clock and your left hip is 9 o’clock. Now, squeeze the numbers in the centre gently, and lift them up toward your belly button, and then feel the muscles let go. Hello, Pelvic Floor!
You should activate your pelvic floor before all exercises, like your KX Pilates class, without holding your breath or clenching your butt. You can start practicing right this very second. Off you go!