Let’s talk about pelvic floor muscles! These are the muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis, and help support organs such as the uterus, as well as control bowel and bladder movements.
By supporting and regularly exercising these muscles, you have a better chance of preventing or improving issues like incontinence.
How do I know if I have a weak pelvic floor?
A weakened pelvic floor is more common than you think. This can happen due to a lack of pelvic floor exercises, menopause, giving birth and even ageing. If you’re someone who has a heavy press on your pelvic floor through pregnancy, obesity, constipation or even a long term cough, then your pelvic floor can also weaken.
If you have a weak pelvic floor, you’re more likely to have a loss of bladder and bowel control, such as wetting yourself when coughing, sneezing or laughing. You might struggle to reach the bathroom in time, or even have problems inserting a tampon. Other issues can relate to pain or a heavy feeling in the vagina, as well as constant vaginal infections, such as UTIs or thrush.
Read more: Pregnancy and Incontinence
How to strengthen your pelvic floor
Women of all ages need a strong pelvic floor. Even if you don’t have any current issues with your pelvic floor, it’s important to start doing exercises that will help keep those muscles strong in order to avoid any problems that can come up in the future.
A great place to start with strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is by doing kegel exercises. Imagine as if you were peeing and you stopped mid pee and squeezed. That right there are your pelvic floor muscles! Contract those muscles for about 5 seconds, then let go for 5 seconds. Do this about 10 times, and repeat 3-4 times a day.
Related: 5 Minute Guided Pelvic Floor Workout
The best thing about kegels is that you can do them anywhere! You can do them lying down, standing up or sitting at work. A good tip is to make sure you keep all your other muscles relaxed. Don’t try squeezing your butt muscles, your thighs or legs. Once you’re able to do 5 second kegels, try working your way up to 10 seconds.
Though these exercises won’t help shape your physical appearance, your pelvic floor muscles will reap the rewards as they get stronger and can help stop incontinence that comes with age, pregnancy or menopause.
Another way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is by doing core exercises. Working on your entire core will strengthen your abs, glutes, pelvic floor and back muscles. When these muscles are all strong and working hard together, you can prevent any weakening that may potentially occur in the pelvic floor muscles.
For more information on the pelvic floor, 12WBT recommends speaking to a medical professional or local GP.