“What’s the pelvic floor?” I hear you ask. Well, to put it simply, it refers to the group of muscles and connective tissues that supports your bladder, uterus and bowel. If you stop urinating mid-flow, you’ll be able to feel the pelvic floor muscles. Although, we should add, that you shouldn’t make a habit of that!
Having a strong, toned pelvic floor has many benefits. Below, you’ll find some helpful tips on what causes a weak pelvic floor and the best exercises to improve it!
What causes a weak pelvic floor?
Weak pelvic floor, or pelvic floor dysfunction, is a condition where you’re unable to coordinate the pelvic floor muscles. This can make it hard to go to the toilet without experiencing pain or straining. Incontinence is another common symptom, as many people will put too much pressure on their bladder, resulting in loss of bladder control. While pelvic floor dysfunction tends to affect people more as they age, it can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. Here are the most common causes:
- Pelvic surgery
- Trauma to the pelvis
- Heavy lifting
- Chronic constipation (too much straining can weaken those muscles!)
- Being overweight
A weak pelvic floor can affect different areas of your life, from going out with friends, to using public toilets, to avoiding public transport and shopping trips. The fear of incontinence can make some people feel too scared or embarrassed to leave their homes, but thankfully, there are some ways to strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce symptoms.
Benefits of pelvic floor exercises
Want to get a toned and much stronger pelvic floor? Then pelvic floor exercises are now your best friend! These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles and improve the way they function. This can prevent incontinence, pelvic floor prolapse and constipation. And did you know that a weak pelvic floor can contribute to painful sex? This can be caused by a tightening of the muscles. Pelvic floor exercises help to relax those muscles, allowing you to have a better, worry-free sex life with heightened pleasure!
What are the best pelvic floor exercises?
So now you know what causes a weak pelvic floor and the benefits of pelvic floor exercises, you’ll want to know what some of the best pelvic floor exercises are. Everyone is different, so not all of these exercises are going to be suitable for you. But just know that doing 1 exercise is better than not doing any exercises. You can start off slowly and gradually increase these exercises until you’re doing them more frequently.
Happy baby pose
The first yoga pose that we want to recommend is happy baby pose. This is a gentle pose that many people will be able to do, and it can feel really relaxing, too.
- Start by laying flat on your back on to a yoga mat or blanket. This could be done on your bed, if needed
- Hug your knees into your chest
- Then, gently, extend your legs so that your feet are up in the sky
- Grabbing the soles of your feet with your hands, keep your legs spread apart while your head and shoulders are rested against the floor
- You can now hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, and you can rock gently side by side, but only if you’re comfortable
Kegels are one of the best pelvic floor exercises that you can do, and you don’t even need a yoga mat for this one. They can be done anywhere, whether that’s sitting down or lying down. If you struggle with incontinence, you’ll likely benefit from kegels.
- Sitting on a chair or lying down in bed or on the sofa, take a deep breath in for 5 seconds and release for a further 5 seconds
- Try to imagine you are urinating (trust us on this one) and you need to stop the flow suddenly
- Contract these muscles for at least 5 seconds then release
- Repeat this 5 times a day
This one can be difficult to begin with, as many people have difficulty identifying their pelvic floor. But it will get easier every time you do it! The key is to be patient, take deep breaths, and focus all of your attention on your pelvic organs.
Squats aren’t an easy exercise for some people, especially those with back problems. If that’s your main worry, you can do this exercise against a wall to help support your back and lessen the strain.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keeping yourself calm and your breath steady, slowly bend your legs until you feel like you are sitting on an invisible chair
- Put your hands together to your chest as this can help to support balance
- Try to hold this pose for 30 seconds, before gradually coming back up into a standing position
- You can repeat this twice daily, or practice this position a few times a week
Pelvic bridges help you to identify your pelvic muscles and strengthen them. They can be hard to get used to, at first, but once you get the hang of it, they’re a great exercise to add to your daily routine.
- Lay down with your back pressed flat against a towel or mat with your knees shoulder-width apart
- Let your arms lay flat against the mat
- Inhale for 5 seconds, as you do so lift your hips up towards the sky, so you reach a slanted bridge position
- Exhale and hold the pose for 3 to 5 seconds
- Inhale and slowly release your position
- This can be repeated 3 to 5 times a day
Child’s pose is a favourite of most yogis and it’s commonly placed at the beginning or the end of a yoga routine to help unwind and relax the body. It’s a yoga position that’s suitable for people of all levels, and the best thing about it is it helps to stretch out the lumbar spine and pelvic floor. A mat isn’t completely necessary for this pose, but it can be helpful if you have one.
- Start by getting on your hands and knees
- Widen your knees while making sure your feet are pointed straight
- Slowly lean forward and lay your arms flat against the floor
- Put your head down to the ground
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds
- You can repeat this once or twice a day
Making you feel the most comfortable
Exercise can make you feel really good, but many people turn away from it when they’re on their period because they don’t feel comfortable enough. Assuming you feel well enough to exercise, wearing comfortable underwear will make sure you stay cool and dry throughout.
Our incredibly soft and absorbent period undies can be worn all day long, without the fear of leaks and dampness. Whether your flow is light or heavy, we’ve got you covered. And not only will you be feeling good—you’ll be doing good, too. Our underwear is reusable and made from sustainable materials. Free from toxins and chemicals, our undies are great for both your vagina and the environment. Why not give them a try?