Pelvic floor exercises. You know you’re supposed to do them… you’re possibly reminded you really should be doing them when you laugh, sneeze, cough or try to run. But how do you do pelvic floor exercises? Is it just squeezing??
Actually no, and to really tone your undercarriage, we need to move onwards from pelvic floor exercises consisting only of static Kegels.
Your pelvic floor is a fundamental part of your core. You don’t train these muscles in isolation, but as a System.
I recently blogged about Yoga for your Pelvic Floor, about how you need to lift, not just squeeze and how your pelvic floor is part of your system of core muscles, including your transverse abdominis. These muscles don’t act alone, and so nor should they be only be exercised alone.
A typical Kegel, and the traditional pelvic floor exercise we’re all told to do – ‘squeeze as if you’re trying not to urinate’ – isn’t enough.
But to really find and work your pelvic floor muscles you need to ‘connect’ with them. You can’t just go through the motions, you have to focus. There’s a front to your pelvic floor (where you squeeze to stop yourself urinating) but there’s also a back (where you stop yourself from passing gas), and lo and behold (you got pregnant and possibly had your baby using it, so I’m hoping you’re aware of it) there is also a middle.
Find all 3 places (you’ll have to focus!), and then imagine ‘picking up’ a cherry tomato with each orifice, individually. Now imagine it’s a raisin. Grain of rice? NOW you’re working your pelvic floor!
Now I say, imagine, I’m not suggesting you actually try it, although could be a novel way to spend the afternoon…
And do you know what REALLY works your pelvic floor muscles? Moving, jumping and turning. These real, everyday, functional movements make your pelvic floor muscles contract involuntarily. They have to, because you’re surprising them, stretching them and making them work to do their job (which is to support your organs: bladder, uterus and bowel).
Instability and vibration work too… (I’m thinking swiss ball, Bosu… but you know… whatever you’ve got to hand ;))
There’s a lot more to this, where specific exercise movements have been proven to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles many, many times more effectively than standard kegels.
If you’ve had babies (by whatever birth method) and you don’t exercise your pelvic floor, you risk prolapse, pelvic instability and leakage, if not now, then as you age.
FIND and CONNECT with your pelvic floor – all of it, not just the front – and then EXERCISE it. Your pelvic floor needs to MOVE to work. Not just squeeze.
And MOVE! Our bodies are designed to move – to squat, jump, pull, push, lunge and rotate – your pelvic floor will work harder, the harder you work the rest of your body and core, so shift yourselves Ladies!
You may also notice a rather miraculous change in the shape of your tummy when you do… And feel free to share your novel ideas for incorporating these ideas into your day.