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:
- Buttocks (the deeper, anal sphincter muscle should contract)
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.
|Pelvic Floor Breathing||Pelvic Floor Kegels*||* Kegel Exercise Note|
|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.
Pelvic Floor Breathing Exercise
- Sit in a chair or on an exercise ball, if one is available.
- Inhale deeply.
- Exhale and relax.
- Repeat until you feel the pressure from your diaphragm on your pelvic floor.
Pelvic Floor Exercise - Kegels
- Identify the right muscles. See the Healthline article below for instructions on how to find these muscles.
- To perform Kegels, contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds.
- Release for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this 10 times, 3 times a day.
* 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.
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.
Body Weight Squats
Pelvic floor Squats
- Stand in an upright position, feet hip-width apart and toes slightly pointed out.
- Extend your arms out straight.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes as you squat.
- Focus on tightening the pelvic floor while you straighten your legs and return to an upright position.
- Complete 10 reps, resting before additional sets.
Pelvic Floor Bridge
- Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90° angle and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
- Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down.
- Relax your upper body and back while you draw in your abdominals and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
- Exhale as you press your hands and forearms into the floor and slowly push your pelvis up towards the ceiling.
- Hold in an up position for a slow count of three.
- Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
- 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
Pelvic Floor Split Tabletop Exercise
- 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.
- 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.
- Slowly split your legs so each knee falls outward, reaching a comfortable position.
- Exhale to squeeze your thighs back together and contract your pelvic floor.
- Repeat for 15 reps and 3 sets.
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.
- Kneel on the floor and face down (prone) with your wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage your pelvic floor.
- Point your fingers forward with your palms resting on the floor.
- 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.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tucked in.
- Look straight ahead so that your neck can maintain the alignment to the rest of the body. Do not raise or lower your head.
- 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.
- Repeat on each side for 10 reps. Do 3 sets.
Rocking Elbow Plank Exercise
Pelvic Floor Rocking Plank
- 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.
- 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.
- Staying in your plank shape, inhale to shift your shoulders in front of your elbows, coming high onto the balls of your feet.
- Exhale to shift your shoulders back over your elbows, pressing your heels back.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
Pelvic Floor Wall Sit Exercise
Pelvic Floor Wall Sit
- Stand with your back flat against the wall and your feet about 1-2 feet away from the wall.
- Bend your knees until your legs are at a 90-degree angle and engage your pelvic floor.
- 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.
- 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.
Pelvic Tilt Exercise
This exercise helps strengthen your abdominal muscles, and stretches the muscles in your lower back.
- Lie with your back on the floor in a neutral position with your legs bent and toes facing forward.
- Pull your belly button in toward your spine, pushing your pelvis up toward the ceiling.
- Tighten your gluteus and hip muscles as you tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Do 5 sets of 20 reps.
Pelvic Floor Squeeze
Purpose: To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
- Sit comfortably and squeeze the pelvic muscles for a count of 10.
- Don’t hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock, or thigh muscles during this exercise.
- Relax the muscles completely for a count of 10.
To progress you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds.
Dead Bug Exercise
Pelvic Floor Dead Bug Exercise
- Lie on your back with your arms straight up and your knees bent at 90° angle.
- Engage your core and abdominal group by gently drawing in your belly button.
- Rotate your pelvis backwards to flatten your lower back.
- Keep your lower back on the floor – do not arch your back.
- 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.
- Repeat with your right leg and left arm.
- Alternate sides for 10 repetitions.
- Finding the pelvic floor muscles – Men & Women
- What are pelvic floor exercises?
- 7 Exercises That Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
- Pelvic Bridging Exercise
- MedlinePlus Pelvic Floor Muscles Training Exercises
- 4 Ways to Exercise During Pregnancy
Articles by Dr. Sarah:
To help you learn more…
|Aligned and Well – Down There For Women
|Heal Pelvic Pain
|Pelvic Recovery after Baby
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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