For most women, the pelvic floor is out of sight, out of mind. We often don’t even think about it until something goes wrong or we can no longer do the things we used to be able to do. Like sneeze and pee separately.
As a mum to two girls, a personal trainer, yoga teacher, I am passionate about helping mums re-gain a strong and functional pelvic floor. I myself struggled with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after giving birth to my first-born, and this is why the pelvic floor is so important to our health… and sex life.
Before we start, what is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a combination of muscle, ligaments and fascia that sit in your pelvic bowl. It connects to your tailbone at the back, your pubic bone at the front and your sit bones on either side. It acts like a hammock or sling to support your bowel, bladder and uterus.
Why is the pelvic floor important?
- A strong pelvic floor will help to keep your insides-inside and prevent or reduce pelvic organ prolapse.
- A strong pelvic floor may help to reduce incontinence.
- A strong pelvic floor can improve sexual pleasure and confidence.
- Your pelvic floor is a vital part of your ‘core’. It will help you to create a strong body after baby.
How do you contract the pelvic floor muscles?
One visualisation cue that helps women to engage their pelvic floor is to imagine the four walls of your vagina like an open flower with four petals. Draw all four petals into the centre and lift the closed bud. Take a breath into hold and exhale to fully release.
Don’t forget to breathe. You should be able to engage and lift your pelvic floor while maintaining a neutral breath.
It is easy to get your pelvic floor contractions wrong. My number number one tip when it comes to pelvic floor exercises is to have your pelvic floor and core strength assessed by a Physio specialising in Women’s Health and Continence.
What are some basic pelvic floor exercises we should all be doing?
1. Endurance holds
Here, you are trying to maintain a pelvic floor contraction for an extended period of time.
- Engage and lift your pelvic floor for 3-4 seconds before releasing fully. Repeat 8-10 rounds
- Slowly build up by increasing by 1 to 2 seconds each day
2. Power Lifts
Engage your pelvic floor as quickly and powerfully as you can and then fully release. Lift straight back up with no rest in between. Aim for 10 power contractions.
3. Functional Movements
Combine your pelvic floor exercises with function movements such as squats, lunges and push-ups.
Former elite gymnast Lauren Hannaford takes you through the exercises to do in order to improve your flexibility fast.