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Pelvic Floor Exercises – How To Do, Types, Benefits, And Side Effects

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
Pelvic Floor Exercises – How To Do, Types, Benefits, And Side Effects November 29, 2017

Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises are best for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. They help prevent the unintentional passing of urine and vaginal prolapse, support the extra weight during pregnancy, and make sex better. Doctors recommend women of all ages to do pelvic floor exercises. In fact, these exercises also help men with prostate problems. So, set aside 5 minutes every day and do these simple yet effective exercises. Here’s a sneak peek at the topics covered in this article.

Pelvic Floor Exercises At A Glance

What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises?

 What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises

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Pelvic floor exercises consist of a simple workout where you squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds and then release. It can be done anytime and anywhere.

But what is the pelvic floor muscle and where is it? Let me enlighten you. The pelvic floor or Kegel muscles are present underneath the pelvis, attached from the pubic bone (in the front) to the spinal base (at the back).  They have three openings – the bladder outlet, the vagina, and the anus. They are composed of three muscle fibers, tissues, nerves, and ligaments. If you are still not sure which muscles we are talking about, here’s how you can tell if you are exercising the correct muscles.

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How To Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Exercising the right muscles is as important as the exercise itself. Here are three methods to find your pelvic floor muscles. Remember, do not use your glutes, legs, and stomach while trying these methods.

Method 1: You can locate your pelvic floor muscles when you try to stop the flow of urine midstream.

Method 2: Tighten the muscles as you do while holding back a wind.

Method 3: When you squeeze or tighten the muscles, you should feel an upward movement.

Now that you have found your pelvic floor muscles, here’s your step-by-step guide to do the exercise correctly.

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How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly

How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly

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Any muscle that is not exercised becomes weak. And pelvic floor muscles are no exception. Therefore, it is important that women of all ages do these exercises. Because it is more than just being embarrassed at a public place when a little urine leaks out when you cough, sneeze, exercise or laugh – it can affect your confidence. Without wasting any more time, let’s get started.

Step 1: Starting Position

Sit, stand or lie with your feet slightly apart. Relax your thighs, shoulders, buttock, and abs. This is your starting position.

Step 2: Get Started

Squeeze the ring of the muscles around the back and front passages in your pelvic floor. You should feel an upward movement.

Step 3: Hold

Hold the squeeze for a second. You can increase the duration to a few more seconds.

Step 4: Repeat

Do 10 slow squeezes to complete one set. And in the next set, do 10 quick squeezes.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps, 2 times a day.

Tip: Do not squeeze too tight and do not hold the squeeze for too long.

So, this is the basic Kegel or pelvic floor exercise. But you can also include this exercise in your workout regimen. How? Find out next.

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3 Alternate Ways To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises

These are the best three pelvic floor or Kegel exercises mixed with other exercises. These are easy to do and help you build muscle strength and tone your body. Make sure you warm up before doing these exercises. Try them out.

1. Bridge

1. Bridge

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Steps
  1. Lie down on the floor. Place your legs hip-width apart, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Keep your hands to the side, with the palms facing down.
  2. Clench your pelvic floor and push your buttocks up. Support your body with your arms and feet.
  3. Count to 5. Keep breathing and look up at the ceiling.
  4. Lower your body and unclench your pelvic floor.
  5. Do 1 set of 10 reps.

2. Madonna

2. Madonna

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Steps
  1. Fold your legs and sit such that your heels touch your buttocks. Your toes should point inward. Place your hands on the mat behind you, near your feet. With your palms facing the ground and chin tucked towards your chest, look diagonally up at the ceiling.
  2. Keeping your core engaged and spine neutral, lift your hips and clench your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Hold this pose for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly, lower your hips back to the starting position and unclench your pelvic floor muscles.
  5. Do a set of 10 reps.

3. Pelvic Lift

3. Pelvic Lift

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Steps
  1. Sit on a mat and extend your legs in front of you. Place your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Keep your hands behind you, palms flat on the floor and facing outwards, chest up, and spine neutral. Look straight.
  2. Supporting your body with your palms and heels, lift your hips up, clench your pelvic floor muscles, and let your head fall back.
  3. Hold this pose for 10 seconds. You can try practicing quick or slow squeezes while your hips are lifted.
  4. Slowly, lower the hips, unclench your pelvic floor muscles, and come back to the starting position.
  5. Do a set of 10 reps.

So, you see, these exercises are really relaxing as they help you stretch and improve your flexibility. You can also mix pelvic floor exercises with other exercises, but I recommend you talk to your doctor before you do that. Now, let’s find out why your pelvic floor muscles become weak. Are you doing something wrong? If yes, what is it?

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What Causes The Pelvic Floor Muscles To Weaken?

The pelvic floor muscles are vital muscles and can become weak due to different reasons. One of the main reasons is the stretching of the pelvic floor during childbirth. Babies weighing more than 8 lbs, the use of forceps, and tears caused during delivery weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Secondly, frequent bouts of constipation can cause the pelvic floor muscles to become weak. Last, but not least, not exercising the pelvic floor muscles makes them weak.

It is clear from the reasons mentioned above why doctors recommend women and men of all ages to do pelvic floor exercises. For women, especially, these exercises are going to help you during pregnancy, childbirth, and post-delivery. So, how many times should you do these exercises? Will overdoing it cause harm? Let’s find out next.

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How Many Times Should You Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?

You should never overdo pelvic floor exercises. It is best that you do a few contractions per set and repeat several times a day. Overdoing the exercises can shorten the muscles of your pelvic floor, which will then pull on your urethra and bladder. This, in turn, will make you more prone to urinary incontinence and make it difficult to achieve an orgasm during intercourse. So, talk to your doctor to find out how many sets and reps are recommended for you depending on your age, activity level, and medical history.

Now, the big question is, in how many days will you start seeing results? Here’s what you should know.

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In How Many Days Will You See Results?

If you do these exercises correctly, you will start seeing results in a month. But that doesn’t mean you should stop doing them altogether after that. Consult your doctor before deciding whether to reduce the number of sets or completely stop doing these exercises. Moreover, you will only gain from doing pelvic floor exercises regularly. Here’s a list of benefits of Kegel or pelvic floor exercises.

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What Are The Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Or Kegel Exercises?

What Are The Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Or Kegel Exercises

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Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are extremely important for women and men of all ages. They not only improve your self-confidence but also prepare your body for pregnancy and childbirth. Let’s look at the benefits in detail.

  • Help Build Social Confidence

Urinary incontinence or unintentional passing of urine can be embarrassing and lowers your confidence. Sneezing, jumping, exercising, laughing, and coughing can cause leakage of urine in people who have weak pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises will strengthen the muscles, and the problem of urinary incontinence will disappear in just a few weeks’ time.

  • Improve Bowel Movement And Bladder Control

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles improves muscle control. And this is the reason you will have more control over your bladder. Your bowel movement also improves, and you will be able to pass stools without constraint or difficulty.

  • Provide Support To The Growing Weight During Pregnancy

As your baby grows in your belly, the weight increases. A few mothers find it difficult to carry the weight. And, of course, bladder control is an issue. If you start doing pelvic floor exercises even before you become pregnant, you will prep the muscles for the extra weight that they need to carry. Strengthening these muscles will provide support and also give you better control over your bladder.

  • Better Recovery After Childbirth

Women experience a lot of health problems post-delivery. And there is one solution to half of the problems – Kegel or pelvic floor exercises. They will prevent leaking of urine, support proper bowel movement, and aid speedy recovery.

  • Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse

The pelvic organs include the uterus, the bladder, and the rectum. The pelvic floor muscles help in holding these organs in place from below. If these muscles become weak, they will not be able to hold the pelvic organs in place, and these organs may sag down, leading to pelvic organ prolapse. So, by doing pelvic floor exercises, you will be able to prevent pelvic organ prolapse.

  • Speedy Recovery After Prostate Surgery

Yes, Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are recommended for men too. They help speed up recovery after surgery and also prevent leaking of urine.

  • Improve Sex Life

Kegel exercises can help increase sensitivity during intercourse, leading to better chances of orgasm for women. For men, they can help reduce the chances of erectile dysfunction.

Hence, Kegel or pelvic floor exercises can be helpful in many different ways. But are there any side effects of these exercises? Let’s find out.

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Are There Any Side Effects Of Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises?

When Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are not done properly, like overdoing them or not contracting the correct muscles, it can lead to problems like a weaker pelvic floor, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, back pain, and UTI. Consult your doctor and make sure you are doing them properly to get the best out of these exercises.

To conclude, pelvic floor exercises should be included in your daily routine, but under an expert’s supervision. They not only offer a lot of benefits but also improve the quality of your life. So, talk to your doctor today and start doing Kegel exercises. Cheers!

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How do I do pelvic floor exercises after childbirth?

You can do pelvic floor exercises while sitting or lying down. Talk to your doctor to know the best position to do these exercises depending on how many days it has been since delivery, your medical condition, etc.

How do I do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy?

You can do them while sitting or lying down.

What are the muscles of the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is composed of muscle fibers of coccygeus muscle, levator ani, and connective tissue.

Can men do pelvic floor exercises?

Yes, men of all ages can do pelvic floor exercises.

What are the exercises for normal delivery?

You should do Kegel exercises. Along with this, you may also do these exercises according to your trimester.

How do I know if the pelvic floor exercises are working?

The first thing that you will notice is more control over your bladder. Apart from this, you will also have better support and recovery after childbirth or prostate surgery and better chances of orgasm during intercourse.

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.
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