How To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor

How To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor

How To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor

by | Oct 27, 2019 | Tips

Do you have a pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, post-pregnancy prolapse or generally find it hard to maintain a strong hip position when lifting weights, running, or even walking? If so, you may want to continue reading (regardless if you are male or female).

Let’s start with this: if you are wanting to strengthen the pelvic floor, you are going to want to forget sit ups and crunches right now.

In order to improve pelvic floor function a simultaneous improvement of strength, endurance and coordination in the muscle must be considered. These muscular properties correlate to many daily and exercise-specific activities performed using the pelvic floor like those mentioned above (squatting, walking, and even standing).

The strengthening of deeper abdominal muscles must also be considered (Transverse Abdominis [TVA] and Internal Obliques [OI]) as these muscles contract along with the pelvic floor.

So why don’t common CORE exercises such as crunches or sit-ups achieve this goal?

1. A common cue with these exercises is to “suck the belly button into the back,” this cue creates bearing down/unnecessary pressure on the pelvic floor along with holding of the breath, both counter-intuitive to activating the muscles required to increase pelvic floor function

2. These exercises create tension through excessive flexion of the spine, thus ignoring the importance of Lumbar and Sacral (lower spine/hip) control when actually stimulating the pelvic floor and deeper abdominal muscles

So what exercises CAN I do to actually activate/strengthen these muscles?

1. Start with supine or standing posterior pelvic tilts to gain control of the lumbar spine whilst maintaining a regular breathing pattern (think of drawing the hip bones together or the motion of stopping mid-pee)

2. Once you have pelvic control, you can move on to exercises that specifically strengthen the pelvic floor and deeper abdominal muscles. Try adding alternating knee lifts whilst maintaining said posterior pelvic tilt from a lying supine position. From there, you can move on to lifting the knees simultaneously, then straighten the legs and perform straight leg raises. A more advanced progression that combines all of these movements is the Dead Bug (see image below).

2-3 sets of 10-12 reps of all exercise progressions should do.

I hope this post has been helpful to those that are interested in this topic. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for content to cover.

Thank you for reading!

– Hannah

*journal articles used: https://www.researchgate.net/…/Pelvic-Floor-and-Abdominal-M…

 

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