A strong pelvic floor is important not only for women but also for men! Having a weak pelvic floor can be irritating and have many embarrassing side effects. Thankfully there’s lots you can do to help yourself! Depending on the severity, there are easy exercises you can follow at home and even apps you can use in conjunction with insertable devices!
There are many reasons why a person’s pelvic floor may be weakened. Including: childbirth, obesity, heavy lifting, chronic coughing, post prostate or abdominal surgery, constipation and ageing. A tight pelvic floor can be just as detrimental! Tightness in this area is sometimes painful and can be caused by sexual abuse, reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, vaginismus. Aswell as IBS and ageing.
What Is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is located between the tailbone and pubic bone. It’s the ‘sling’ of muscles that supports the bladder, bowel and uterus. During pregnancy, these muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process. Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in our sexual function. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic and genital pain during sex, while increasing one’s ability to feel pleasure and climax, as-well as strengthening erections.
The Pelvic Floor Is Part Of your Core
The core involves a lot more than just our abdominal muscles. The core refers to an area of muscles that begins at the diaphragm and ends at the pelvis. The parts of your core include your abdominal muscles, low back muscles, pelvis muscles, and the diaphragm. Together, these muscles work to support your abdominal contents like your organs. Good health means a properly functioning core. Within our body all of our muscles are intrinsically connected. So as you strengthen your core, your pelvic floor becomes strengthened too and vice versa.
Strengthening Isn’t Just About Kegels
Weak pelvic floor muscles cause symptoms such as incontinence, prolapse, as well as needing to pee frequently and urgently. Kegels or pelvic floor strengthening exercises play an important role in helping improve strength. However, depending on what your symptoms are, kegels aren’t always the best solution! Just like any other muscle, the pelvic floor muscles can become tight. In this case you may experience symptoms such as pelvic pain. Feelings of incomplete bladder or bowel emptying, weak or hesitant stream, and pain during or after sexual intercourse. The key is to have a strong pelvic floor, not a tight pelvic floor. In the case of the pelvic floor being too tight, exercises focused on relaxation and gentle stretches can help release the pelvic floor muscles to allow for improvements.
Who Can Benefit From Strengthening?
There are certain groups of people who have a higher chance of weak or tightened pelvic floors. However, anyone can have pelvic floor dysfunction and anyone can benefit from strengthening!
Here are a few examples of people who will greatly benefit from strengthening.
- Prenatal and Postpartum – This is one of the most common times where pelvic floor concerns arise. With a growing baby, going through labour, and recovery postpartum. A women’s body goes through a lot of change in a short period of time. Individuals might experience pain around their low back, tailbone, pelvis, and hips. They may also experience symptoms such as incontinence, heaviness, urination urgency and frequency, and pain with sexual intercourse. These are all symptoms that can be improved.
- Post menopause – When going through menopause women’s estrogen levels will decrease significantly. It turns out that estrogen is important in maintaining optimal function in the pelvic floor region. Thus, when going through menopause individuals may experience symptoms such as heaviness/bulging of the vagina, incontinence, increased urgency and frequency, and pelvic pain. Pelvic Floor strengthening plays an important role in improving these symptoms.
- Men – While any male can experience pelvic floor symptoms. The most common causes of pelvic floor dysfunction with men include: chronic pelvic pain, chronic prostatitis, post surgical and post prostatectomy. Common symptoms that men may experience are: The feeling of incomplete bladder or bowel emptying. Slow/weak stream, incontinence, pelvic pain, and erectile dysfunction. These symptoms can be diminished through education, manual techniques and strengthening exercises.
- Post surgery – After undergoing an abdominal or pelvic surgery it is common to experience pelvic floor concerns. This may be due to the surgical procedure itself or due to prolonged catheterisation. Commonly, post surgery physiotherapy treatment will work towards decreasing pain and improving scar mobilisation.
Ways To Keep Your Pelvic Floor Strong!
Keeping your pelvic floor strong and in good health keeps your sex life flourishing and alive. Incorporating daily exercise is a great preventative of incontinence caused by age. It’s also great for the prevention of erectile dysfunction that far too many men experience. If you want your sling of muscles to safely secure your internal organs for as long as possible. Below are some really cool ways of making sure your pelvic floor stays happy.
Pelvic muscle training, or Kegels, is the practice of contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Kegels are great if you experience urine leakage from sneezing, laughing, jumping, or coughing. Or have a strong urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine. Start practicing this exercise, either sitting or lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. This is easiest on your bed or couch.
As your muscles get stronger, try doing the exercises while standing, and then walking. Everyone should exercise these muscles once a day, but, at first, 3-4 shorter sessions a day may be helpful. If you can’t feel anything happening when you exercise your muscles. Or you are finding it difficult to progress, you will need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. As well as making it a regular routine, it helps to squeeze your pelvic floor hard and fast when you cough, sneeze, or pick up anything. But don’t ever do your exercises while urinating.
Squats engage the largest muscles in the body and have one of the largest payoffs in terms of strength improvement. When performing this fundamental move, ensure your form is solid before you add any resistance.
- Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. If using a barbell, it should be rested behind your neck on your trapezius muscles.
- Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your chin tucked and neck neutral.
- Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keeping your weight in your heels and knees bowed slightly outward.
- Straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
- Complete 15 reps.
Ben Wa Balls
Ben Wa balls, or Kegel balls, are small, weighted balls that a person can insert into their vagina. Some believe that these balls can help a person perform pelvic floor or vagina strengthening exercises. Others say that they can improve sexual pleasure. Ben Wa balls can range from the size of a marble to 2 inches in diameter. Some are made from metal, while others are made from lighter materials such as plastic, with metal ball bearings inside to provide the weight.
The makers of Ben Wa balls suggest that using them could help improve the pelvic floor muscle’s strength and boost sexual stimulation. Use plenty of lubrication to help ease the balls in and out of the vagina and to improve comfort. Make sure that both hands and the Ben Wa balls are clean before insertion. When using Ben Wa balls for the first time, try them out for a short period, such as 5 minutes. By doing this, a person can be sure that their body will tolerate their use before trying them for longer amounts of time.
Perifit Mobile Game
Perifit is the revolutionary solution for pelvic healing and strength training. Part app, part exerciser, Perifit gives your Kegel exercises a modern upgrade using exciting gamified technology. Developed with top pelvic floor experts for people at every stage of life, fun video games work together with six unique kegel exercise programs to successfully strengthen and heal your pelvic floor. Visualise your contractions in action. Challenge yourself to level up, and stay motivated with an interactive app to track and monitor your progress. You don’t have to live with the painful effects of incontinence, prolapse and weak pelvic function anymore. With Perifit, experience the physical healing, emotional wellness, and sexual pleasure you deserve. Take back your body and life with Kegel exercises and strength training that work!
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With anything in life, practice makes perfect. If you commit to adding these exercises into your daily routine you will shortly see the benefits and how they progress over time. Weeing yourself when you laugh isn’t a fun time and neither is a weak willy. Thankfully there are so many options available to you. If your situation is extreme, it’s best to see a Physiotherapist who specialises in the pelvis region. They will be able to give you the best information and resources for healing and thriving!