When it comes to your core muscles, one group often gets overlooked … until they become a problem! That is because when we think of our core, we usually only think of the six pack of muscles.
Did you know that your pelvic floor muscles are the FOUNDATION for your core? We forget all about the pelvic floor muscles until we start having bladder issues but they work very hard to support you – as well as all the organs that are inside your pelvic region.
The pelvic floor muscles give you the ability to control urine, feces and gas, and can delay emptying until it is convenient. Keeping those muscles strong and fit can make a big difference in your body’s overall stability, as well as your digestive and reproductive organs. When you contract the pelvic floor muscles they lift up the internal organs in the pelvis and tighten the vagina, urethra, and anus.
This doesn’t just apply to women, BTW – men also benefit from having strong pelvic floor muscles. Strong pelvic floor muscles help with urinary and bowel control as well as sexual function. It is important for both erectile function and ejaculation in men.
Many things can affect your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, obesity, constipation, surgery and/or radiation, and just getting older.
Note: if you’re currently having problems with pelvic floor weakness it’s important to check with your doctor to find out the root cause, and to get their go-ahead to start working on correcting those issues.
That’s because if your pelvic floor is very weak, trying to strengthen those muscles can actually make the problem worse by overstressing them. If you have severe issues then it is best to work with a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor.
Strengthening the pelvic floor will help:
improve bladder and bowel control
quicker recovery from abdominal surgeries and childbirth
reduce the risk of prolapse in women
better recovery from prostate surgery
increased sexual sensation
So are you ready to start strengthening your pelvic floor?!
3 Exercises For Your Pelvic Floor
KEGELS – The trick with Kegels (for men AND women) is to isolate them without contracting your ab and glute muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise. It is way more difficult to do a Kegel this way! Try it out now.
It helps to think about lifting up the muscles at the front and back inside of your pelvis as high as you can and hold for 8 to 10 seconds, and then relaxing. Repeat 2-3 times … and then do a few reps a little faster, holding for 1-2 seconds each. Make sure you breathe and really focus on targeting just your pelvic floor muscles!
BRIDGE – Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, palms facing up toward the ceiling. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the floor. Engage your ab and glute muscles and push your low back into the floor, then press your hips up toward the ceiling, until you’re in a straight line from your knees to your hips to your shoulders. Focus on creating length in the spine by imagining your knees moving towards your toes rather than arching your back. Keeping your core and glutes engaged, hold for 2 to 3 seconds before lowering, and repeat for a total of 8-10 reps. (Make sure you breathe!)
BIRD DOG – Kneel with your knees hip-width apart and your hands flat on the ground under your shoulders. Engage your core and keep your spine neutral as you reach your right arm straight in front of you while extending your opposite (left) leg behind you.
Think “long” and not “high” when lifting your arm and leg, with your hips and chest still facing the floor. If you find your back starts to sag or your hips rotate, only lift your arm and leg as high as you can while keeping good form.
Hold for 2-3 seconds then return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side, keeping the movements smooth and fluid.
Repeat for a total of 5-10 repetitions on each side.
I have a great free resource for you if you want more info on strengthening your core! Join my free 5-day Stronger to the Core Challenge – you can sign up here. There are also videos you can use in my Facebook group, The Mindful Way. This week we are focused on the Sun Salutations to continue working on our core and posture, so make sure you join us there too!
If you are really ready to commit to your core, check out my 28 Day Core Program! This will help you strengthen your core AND improve your posture. It comes with a recipe book full of 5-Ingredient Recipes and meal plans with grocery shopping lists too. Each session is under 30 minutes so I know you can fit it into your daily routine with ease!