Great Health Guide
PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
How pelvic floor exercises will assist with bladder & bowel control
Looking after your pelvic floor is important for all women but especially for mums. Being pregnant and giving birth puts pressure onto pelvic muscles and stretches the muscles of your pelvic floor. There are some simple and effective exercises that will help strengthen and maintain your pelvic floor muscles in good condition.
WHY PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES ARE IMPORTANT:
This is a group of muscles that attaches to the bones at the bottom of your pelvis and supports the internal organs above it (bladder, uterus, and bowel). Having strong pelvic floor muscles gives you control over the bladder and bowel. Weakened pelvic floor muscles mean the internal organs are not fully supported. You may not be able to control your urine and could have some leaking. Strong pelvic floor muscles also improve sexual performance and orgasm, so your pelvic floor muscles are very important. However, they will not get stronger by themselves. As with any other muscle, you have to train them to strengthen them. Yet women often struggle to be consistent with their pelvic floor exercises because they think they are boring and/ or they struggle to find the time to do them.
Strong pelvic floor muscles provide control of bladder & bowel.
PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES:
They may not be the most exciting exercise to do, especially when you actually can’t see the results visually. They are very important exercises to incorporate into your fitness routine. You may not realize that you can work your glutes and your pelvic floor at the same time. Your buttock muscles are connected to the pelvic floor muscles so exercises strengthening your backside will also strengthen the pelvic floor. Firstly, you need to make sure that you can engage your pelvic floor muscles correctly. To engage your pelvic floor muscles, tighten the muscles around your front and back passages, drawing the pelvic floor muscles up inside. You want to feel the lift, not only a squeeze and you want to make sure you are not bearing down. I would highly recommend seeing a women’s health physiotherapist for pelvic floor assessment to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly. Below are some of my favorite glute exercises, which can be easily performed at home or at the gym. You can perform them as a quick stand-alone circuit at home, even while watching TV. Or you could use that circuit at the beginning of your longer workout to ‘wake’ the glutes up or add them at the end of your workout to give that extra burn to your backside.
1. Glute bridge with a ball squeeze:
• Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and a soft ball between your knees.
• As you exhale lift your bottom off the ground, engage the pelvic floor, and squeeze the ball with your knees.
• As you inhale lower your bottom back and relax the pelvic floor.
2. Hip clam exercise (add a resistance band for extra challenge):
• Lie on your side with knees bent and your heels and glutes in one line.
• As you exhale lift the top knee up and lift through the pelvic floor.
• As you inhale lower the knee back down and relax the pelvic floor.
3. Donkey kicks (add a resistance band for extra challenge):
• Come down to all fours, in a kneeling position with your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in the line with your hips, keeping your back straight.
• As you exhale engage through your midsection and extend one leg behind you, while squeezing the glutes at the top.
• As you inhale, lower your extended leg back to kneeling position. These are my favourite exercises to strengthen those pelvic floor muscles. Give them a try to have a nicely shaped bottom and dry pants. Magdalena Hawley is a Qualified Personal Trainer and Food & Wellness Coach. She is a founder and head trainer of Mums Going Strong Fitness group and personal training company specialising in postnatal fitness with a focus on core and pelvic floor recovery. And a creator of Busy Fit Mums - online program for busy mums.