The muscles that form the pelvic floor serve many purposes. They are responsible for supporting the internal organs and help facilitate bowel movements and the voiding of urine. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor also supports the uterus. The pelvic floor, or diaphragm, works much like the diaphragm that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. Over time, the muscles that form this partition can become weak. This can lead to several conditions such as incontinence, prolapsed bladder, prolapsed uterus, and blockages of the large intestine.
Benefits of Having a Strong Pelvic Floor
Keeping the pelvic floor strong and well-toned helps to hold the organs located in the abdominal cavity in place so they can function more efficiently. If the bladder begins to prolapse or the muscles that hold it in place start to weaken, it can lead to involuntary incontinence or bladder leakage. Using exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles can reduce your risk of these types of health conditions.
Exercises to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles
There are many exercises you can do to strengthen and tone the muscles of your pelvic floor. Four of the best are:
Kegel exercises are performed by sitting in a chair with your knees bent and gently rolling your hips forward and then back (can be performed almost anywhere).
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and move to a squat position and then back up. Add weights to your hands to create more resistance, resulting in stronger muscles. Start with five pounds.
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent, lift your hips into the air while clenching your glute muscles
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and calves parallel to the floor, keeping your knees bent spread your legs as far as they can go and bring them back to center
Excess weight and multiple pregnancies can lead to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Performing these exercises on a daily basis will result in a strong, well-toned pelvic floor. It will also reduce your risk of many of the complications that result from these muscles losing their strength. Pelvic floor muscles only take a few minutes out of your day and can help you maintain a higher quality of life without the fear of incontinence.