Exercises for the Pelvic Floor

Pelvic Floor Exercises

If you are reading this, you may have had Pelvic Floor Exercises recommended for you. Or, you may want to do something to build your pelvic floor. And, while women are more susceptible to weak pelvic floors, especially after childbirth, men, women and the elderly can benefit by pelvic floor exercises.

And if your doctor has recommended pelvic floor exercises, we’ve formatted them so you can easily print and share with your doctor to see if these are right for you.

Here we listed a few basic exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor. But, in addition to these exercises, we list some great resources to help you understand how to find your pelvic floor muscles, and why you may need these exercises. This includes articles about the exercises to avoid while you strengthen your pelvic floor.

While these exercises are beneficial if done properly, if you are specifically exercising your pelvic floor, keep this tip from MedlinePlus in mind:

It is very important that you keep the following muscles relaxed while doing pelvic floor muscle training exercises:
 

  • Abdominal
  • Buttocks (the deeper, anal sphincter muscle should contract)
  • Thighs

 

MedlinePlus

Also remember that there are many factors that influence your ability to exercise. And while staying fit is always a great idea, you should consult with your doctor before beginning or increasing your exercise level. Certain exercises may be recommended while others may be on the ‘not a good idea’ list.  Additionally, if you feel pain, stop the exercise you are performing. Also see: articles from Dr. Sarah below that you may find helpful.


Exercise List

Pelvic Floor Breathing Pelvic Floor Kegels* * Kegel Exercise Note
Squats Bridge Split Tabletop
Bird Dog Rocking Plank Wall Sit
Pelvic Tilt Pelvic Floor Squeeze Dead Bug

Please note that while you may be familiar with other versions of these exercises, pay particular attention to the focus on the pelvic floor and not the abs, buttocks, or thighs.


Breathing Exercise

Pelvic Floor Breathing Exercise


Instructions

  1. Sit in a chair or on an exercise ball, if one is available.
  2. Inhale deeply.
  3. Exhale and relax.
  4. Repeat until you feel the pressure from your diaphragm on your pelvic floor.


Note: Expand your rib cage with each deep breath until you feel your diaphragm expand. This provides natural strengthening of the pelvic floor.

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Kegels*

Pelvic Floor Exercise - Kegels

Instructions

  1. Identify the right muscles. See the Healthline article below for instructions on how to find these muscles.
  2. To perform Kegels, contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Release for 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.

Note: Pelvic muscle training, or Kegels, is the practice of contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.

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* Kegel Exercise Note

If you have Pelvic Floor Disorder (PTD), you may want to focus on strengthening your glutes with squats. Listen to Katy Bowman’s YouTube video to learn more. And as always, speak with your doctor about your condition and the best treatment.

Katy has an excellent, 7 5-Star rating with this video Aligned and Well – Down There For Women“. Click to buy “Aligned and Well” now..

Developing an (eventual) deep squatting habit (picture going to the bathroom while camping) to create the posterior pull on the sacrum and balance the work of the pelvic floor.

Nicole Crawford in Breaking Muscle.com

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Body Weight Squats

Pelvic floor Squats

Instructions

  1. Stand in an upright position, feet hip-width apart and toes slightly pointed out.
  2. Extend your arms out straight.
  3. 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 spine neutral.
  4. Bring your buttocks toward the floor, going as low as is comfortable. If you can, your thighs should be parallel to the ground, but no lower.
  5. Keep your knees in line with your toes as you squat.
  6. Focus on tightening the pelvic floor while you straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
  7. Complete 10 reps, resting before additional sets.

Note:  Not all squats target the pelvic floor. Wide-legged or deep squats may make it difficult to retain a pelvic floor contraction. When strengthening the pelvic floor, narrow and shallow squats tend to be more beneficial. ²

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Bridge Exercise

Pelvic Floor Bridge


Instructions

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90° angle and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down.
  3. Relax your upper body and back while you draw in your abdominals and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
  4. Exhale as you press your hands and forearms into the floor and slowly push your pelvis up towards the ceiling.
  5. Hold in an up position for a slow count of three.
  6. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for 3 reps.


Notes: As the strength of the pelvic floor increases, many people will find that they can do more repetitions.

Additionally, biomechanical specialist Katy Bowman points out that the gluteal muscles are the ones that are most important for pelvic floor function. Doing regular squats elongates your pelvic floor muscles and makes them more functional. ¹

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Split Tabletop

Pelvic Floor Split Tabletop Exercise


Instructions

  1. Start by lying down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down.
  2. Engage your pelvic floor and lift your feet off the ground. Parallel your shins to the ground so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Slowly split your legs so each knee falls outward, reaching a comfortable position.
  4. Exhale to squeeze your thighs back together and contract your pelvic floor.
  5. Repeat for 15 reps and 3 sets.

Note:  The Split Tabletop is the base of many Pilates workouts. By adding the split, you’re activating your hips and pelvic floor muscles.

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Bird Dog Exercise

If you haven’t tried the Bird Dog yet, it can be tough to stay balanced. But don’t give up if it’s a bit difficult at first. You’ll soon be able to stay up without falling forward. The benefits are worth the effort.

Pelvic

Instructions

  1. Kneel on the floor and face down (prone) with your wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage your pelvic floor.
  2. Point your fingers forward with your palms resting on the floor.
  3. Keeping your spine straight without arching up or down, extend your left leg to hip height and right arm to shoulder level.  Your shoulder should be parallel to the floor. Pause for a moment to balance.
  4. Keep your abdominal muscles tucked in.
  5. Look straight ahead so that your neck can maintain the alignment to the rest of the body. Do not raise or lower your head.
  6. Hold this position for 4 seconds then bend and lower your leg and arm back to the starting position while maintaining stability. You’ll be back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on each side for 10 reps. Do 3 sets.

Note: An exercise in balance and stability, the bird dog engages many muscles at once, including the pelvic floor, making it a full-body move.

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Rocking Elbow Plank Exercise

Pelvic Floor Rocking Plank

Instructions

  1. Start by lying on the floor on your belly. Prop yourself up onto your forearms, straighten your legs and tuck your toes under, coming into a forearm plank.
  2. Draw your navel up and in and engage your pelvic floor. Your shoulders should be stacked over your elbows and your hips should be in line with your shoulders.
  3. Staying in your plank shape, inhale to shift your shoulders in front of your elbows, coming high onto the balls of your feet.
  4. Exhale to shift your shoulders back over your elbows, pressing your heels back.
  5. Repeat for 15 reps.

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Pelvic Floor Wall Sit Exercise

Pelvic Floor Wall Sit


Instructions

  1. Stand with your back flat against the wall and your feet about 1-2 feet away from the wall.
  2. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 90-degree angle and engage your pelvic floor.
  3. Keep your navel drawn up and in, towards your spine so that your lower back is pressing into the wall. The wall should be supporting you.
  4. Hold for a 10 – 15 seconds, then straighten your knees to push your back up the wall.

As a result: This exercise helps to strengthen the pelvic floor, core, and legs.

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Pelvic Tilt Exercise

Pelvic Tilt


This exercise helps strengthen your abdominal muscles, and stretches the muscles in your lower back.

Instructions

  1. Lie with your back on the floor in a neutral position with your legs bent and toes facing forward.
  2. Pull your belly button in toward your spine, pushing your pelvis up toward the ceiling.
  3. Tighten your gluteus and hip muscles as you tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Do 5 sets of 20 reps.


Notes: Although the pelvic tilt is beneficial for your abs and lower back, we have not been able to find a direct link to strengthening the pelvic floor. What we did find is that if you do the pelvic tilt, you will strengthen your abdominal muscles, which is great for your posture.

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Squeeze Exercise

Pelvic Floor Squeeze

Purpose: To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Instructions

  1. Sit comfortably and squeeze the pelvic muscles for a count of 10.
  2. Don’t hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock, or thigh muscles during this exercise.
  3. Relax the muscles completely for a count of 10.


To progress you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds.

Note: Add more squeezes each week, but be careful not to overdo it. Always rest between sets of squeezes. You should start noticing results after doing these exercise for a few months. To keep your pelvic floor strong, keep doing these exercise, even after you notice them working.

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Dead Bug Exercise

Pelvic Floor Dead Bug Exercise

Instructions

  1. Lie on your back with your arms straight up and your knees bent at 90° angle.
  2. Engage your core and abdominal group by gently drawing in your belly button.
  3. Rotate your pelvis backwards to flatten your lower back.
  4. Keep your lower back on the floor – do not arch your back.
  5. Slowly lower your right arm above your head to the ground and your left leg to the ground while keeping your lower back flat. Keep this pose for a few seconds.
  6. Repeat with your right leg and left arm.
  7. Alternate sides for 10 repetitions.

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Additional Resources:

Articles by Dr. Sarah:

To help you learn more…

Aligned and Well – Down There For Women
Pelvic Health
Heal Pelvic Pain
Pelvic Recovery after Baby

Thank you for spending time with us today. Also, please note that we receive an advertising fee when a purchase is made from our website links. Thank you for your support!

I hope you enjoy the Professionals Health Connection and we appreciate your support. Wishing you the Best of Health!

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Sources:

¹ Northrup, Christiane M.D., “What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?“, https://www.drnorthrup.com/what-is-pelvic-floor-dysfunction/, Accessed: Sept. 6, 2019
² Nall, Rachel, RN, BSN, CCRN, “How to do pelvic floor exercises”, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322720.php, Accessed: Sept. 10, 2019

Main Image brought to you by: FocusFitness.net
Proper Bridge Image: Nicole 15 Minute Towel or Slider Exercise, CC BY 2.0

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Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

7 thoughts

    1. Very true AOC, and with these exercises, they should be able to overcome that challenge :) IF their Dr. says it’s ok, of course! :) thank you for spending time with us today AOC. I always love your visits!

    1. I am so sorry to hear that your daughter is going through that Carol and I’m honored to be of help. Please be sure to note the subtle differences in the exercises. They focus on the pelvic floor and not the muscles we tend to favor during exercise. And good luck and prayers for both of you! Thank you so much for the note Carol – that is why we do this and you made my day! Ok, you made my week! LOL

      An additional note – I used to have this issue and it was a nice surprise that exercising (as AOC states in her comment) has stopped this problem for me and I’m thrilled (that’s one of the may reasons why our little website exists – to share:) )…

      1. I’m glad and will heed your advice about the subtle differences! My daughter has come a long way – from not being able to feel her legs to being able to walk almost normally. It is like a miracle! Although, she will need to work at keeping her core and pelvic strength for the rest of her life. It’s been a long few years for daughter – and mother!! It was an awful car accident on an icy night, but the outcome is even better than what we prayed for. God is good – and so is PT!

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