Are you unknowingly neglecting your bodies biggest unsung hero?
For a lot of us, spending our time, money and energy working on perfecting the more aesthetic aspects of our bodies, feels like the norm. We all try and commit (where possible) to exercising our bums, tums, arms, legs, you name it – covering the greys by visiting the salon or indulging in the latest fashion trend. It’s easy to feel the pressure to keep ourselves in the best shape we can, but there is also an undeniable confidence boost that we as individuals feel when we know we are looking after ourselves.
However, one area of our bodies that we often unknowingly neglect is our pelvic floor. You might find it surprising to learn that strengthening the pelvic floor can deliver a whole host of benefits, including that often much-needed boost of inner confidence that we constantly strive for.
In this article, we will show you how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and outline the various benefits this can have on your life.
What are pelvic floor muscles?
Before we can talk about how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, we need to understand exactly what we mean when talking about the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles that sit at the base of your core, stretching from the pubic bone to the tailbone, and their role is to support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. These muscles contract and lift and tighten the organs they support to prevent accidental urination or bowel movements. When the muscles relax, you are able to urinate and have a bowel movement. In addition, these muscles are used for childbirth and for sexual pleasure.
Ways to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles?
There are several things people can do to tighten their pelvic muscles and keep their pelvic floor functioning properly.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, involve repeatedly contracting and holding, then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles in order to build up strength and prevent involuntary leaks. Pelvic floor exercises are an effective treatment for people suffering from several forms of incontinence, however, they take commitment and can be hard to get the hang of. Read more about how to do pelvic floor exercises.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Being overweight can place extra pressure on the organs supported by the pelvic floor, and can be a leading cause of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Dietary changes and regular exercise are simple yet effective steps that you can take to ensure a healthier pelvic floor.
Whilst pelvic floor exercises are a great way of directly targeting the specific pelvic floor area, it should be remembered that the pelvic floor muscles are part of a wider group of muscles that hold your pelvic organs in place. Yoga is a great way of improving your core strength by working your diaphragm, abdominals, and obliques.
Kegel exercisers come in the form of a weighted cone that is inserted into the vagina. The pelvic floor muscles are activated and worked by tightening them to keep the device in place. Similar to pelvic floor exercises, kegel exercisers need to be used regularly and consistently in order to see results. Some people can find these devices intrusive.
Pelvic floor trainer
A pelvic floor trainer exercises your pelvic floor muscles without you having to do a thing. Unlike pelvic floor exercises, you don’t need to worry about making sure you’re targeting the right muscles as the trainer uses Electric Muscle Stimulation to deliver 180 contractions in each 30-minute session, re-educating and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles whilst you relax. Find out more about how INNOVO’s pelvic floor exerciser works.
The top 5 benefits of strengthening the pelvic floor
Pelvic floor & Women’s health expert Jane Wake shares the top 5 benefits of strengthening the pelvic floor, to motivate us all to give a little more love to our bodies biggest unsung hero…
1. Give you control over your bladder & bowel
If you experience leaks when you cough, laugh or sneeze (stress incontinence) or are in constant need of the loo (urge incontinence), you might be surprised to learn that this is an extremely common condition. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men in the UK suffer from various degrees of bladder weakness every single day, so you’re not alone! In fact, it’s more common than hay fever!
Shaped like a basin, the pelvic floor muscles hold the all-important pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel) in place and supports the bladder to provide control when you wee. These muscles can weaken over our life for a wide range of reasons, from childbirth & pregnancy, menopause, ageing, high impact sports & exercise, and even as a result of prostate cancer surgery (in men). Exercising these muscles using pelvic floor exercise devices such as INNOVO, can enable you to regain control over your pelvic floor, and prevent leaks as a long-term, permanent solution.
2. Improve sexual sensation & orgasmic potential
It has been suggested that those that can activate their pelvic floor will experience increased sexual satisfaction and more intense orgasms1. Alternatively, those with a weakened or damaged pelvic floor may experience a loss in sensation.
3. Strengthen the core for a flatter tummy
For a strong midsection and flatter tummy, the whole of the core must work effectively – and this includes the pelvic floor. Our ‘washboard’ abdominal muscles are purely ‘superficial muscles;’ for a truly strong core, we need to strengthen the muscles on the inside - this starts from the pelvic floor and lifts up into deep muscles that strengthen the spine and draw your tummy in.
4. Relieve back pain
Back pain can be caused by a weakened core. When the core muscles – predominantly the pelvic floor muscles – are weak, other muscles have to overcompensate, leading to poor posture and back pain. Strengthening the pelvic floor will increase overall core strength and support the back.
5. Prevent prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more of the pelvic organs (uterus, vagina, bowel or bladder) drops from its normal position and bulges against the vagina. A strong pelvic floor holds all of these organs in place and keeps everything where it should be.
How long does it take to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles?
The amount of time it takes to strengthen the pelvic floor by doing pelvic floor exercises varies between people with some reporting improvements to their pelvic floor muscles after 4 to 6 weeks. Generally speaking, people can expect to see noticeable changes in their pelvic floor muscles after around 3 months.