Want to reduce your risk of incontinence, boost your core strength and improve your sex life? Try these must-do pelvic floor exercises
If you start to experience little leaks or a lack of pleasure in the bedroom, you may be wondering why it’s happening and what you can do to fix it. These are just two of the tell-tale signs that you are suffering from a pelvic floor disorder as a result of having weak pelvic floor muscles.
You’re Not Alone
One in three women suffer from a pelvic floor disorder at some point during their lifetime, and 200 million people worldwide suffer specifically from bladder issues. Even though this is a huge number of women, only one in five seek help, and wait an average of 6.5 years before doing so. Physiotherapist Amanda Savage is often referred such women, and her advice is to not be afraid to seek help. "Pelvic floor (kegel) exercises really do work to improve bladder and bowel problems. We see 70 percent of people solving their problems through pelvic floor exercise alone." To help you manage your little leaks, Amanda has shared four exercises that every woman needs to know.
1. The Knack
If you often leak when you cough or sneeze, then the knack is a technique you need to practise. When you cough, sneeze or laugh, there is a downward pressure in your abdomen. This pushes down on your pelvic floor, preventing it from correctly supporting your organs, and if it is already weak, can cause your bladder to leak. Practise the knack manoeuvre by standing straight and bringing your toes together and your heels apart. Tighten your pelvic floor by squeezing from the back to the front as if you are zipping your buttocks together, then lift as if you are taking your muscles up a lift several floors. Lift and drop your pelvic floor 10 times. Switch your feet position, putting your heels together and parting your toes like a ballerina. Again, tighten your pelvic floor and lift and drop 10 times. Watch more about the knack.
2. The Squat
You may not even realise that you’re carrying your stress in your pelvic floor, but you may experience the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany it. The squat technique is designed to relax your pelvic floor – all you need is a chair or work surface for support. Hold on to the chair and squat deeply, letting your tailbone go backwards and down with your bottom bones spread. Keep your heels on the floor, hold and repeat until you feel relief. Watch more about the squat.
3. Abdominal Exercises
We are often more concerned about the appearance of our stomachs than the strength of our pelvic floor. If you exercise your abdominal muscles, you’re likely to be bearing pressure on to your pelvic floor, weakening it as a result. This helps those little leaks turn into bigger, more embarrassing moments. To improve the strength of both your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, lie on your side and begin by tensing your pelvic floor. Lift your top knee up and back down five times, before relaxing your pelvic floor. Repeat three times. Watch more about abdominal exercises.
4. Using Arm Weights
If you are a kegel connoisseur, then you may be wanting a new challenge. This technique improves your arm muscles as well as your pelvic floor strength. You can simply move your arms or add weight for an additional workout. Hold your Kegel and do five bicep curls before letting your pelvic floor relax. Repeat, moving your arms out to the sides and down before relaxing. Watch more about using arm weights.
Little and Often
With all these techniques, the important thing is to do them for short periods and often. Practice makes perfect and the pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscle in the body – they need to be maintained and given time to rest otherwise they can become tight and sore.
Want to Learn More? You can see Amanda teach Stephanie Taylor, founder of Kegel8, these techniques on the Kegel8 YouTube channel. See more of Amanda’s tips on her website