By now you already know about the myriad of benefits that comes with regular exercise but for people who suffer from pelvic issues, strengthening the muscles is equally important as fitness and health. Both men and women can experience pelvic floor weakness over time. In fact, nearly 24 percent of people in the United States are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders, report researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health. Here are some more information and tips to consider from Medical News Today.
Kegel exercises focus on tightening and holding the muscles that control urine flow. This exercise is suitable for men and women.
A Kegel exercise consists of the following steps:
- Sit in a comfortable position, close the eyes, and visualize the muscles that can stop urine flow.
- Tighten these muscles as much as possible.
- Hold this position for 3–5 seconds. It should feel as though the muscles are lifting up as a result of the squeezing.
- Release the muscles and rest for several seconds.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
- People can vary this exercise by performing it while standing, lying down, or crouching on all fours.
Squeeze and release
This exercise is a rapid “squeeze and release” movement that builds the ability of the pelvic floor muscles to respond quickly.
To perform this exercise, a person should:
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Picture the pelvic floor muscles.
- Squeeze the muscles as quickly as possible and release without attempting to sustain a contraction.
- Rest for 3–5 seconds.
- Repeat the movement 10–20 times.
- Repeat the exercise twice later in the day.
While bridges primarily strengthen the buttocks, they also help work the pelvic floor.
People can do a bridge using these steps:
- Lie down on the back, bend the knees, and place the feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Let the arms fall to the sides with the palms facing downward.
- Contract the buttocks and pelvic floor to lift the buttocks several inches off the ground.
- Hold this position for 3–8 seconds.
- Relax the buttocks and pelvic floor muscles to lower the buttocks to the ground.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
- Rest, then perform up to 2 additional sets.
As the strength of the pelvic floor increases, many people will find that they can do more repetitions.
Along with the bridge, squats can promote a stronger pelvic floor and buttocks.
To perform a squat, a person should:
- Stand with the feet hip-width apart, keeping them flat on the floor.
- Bend at the knees to bring the buttocks toward the floor, going only as low as is comfortable. Keep the back straight and lean slightly forward. The knees should be in line with the toes.
- Focus on tightening the buttocks and pelvic floor while returning to a standing position.
- Repeat this exercise to do a total of 10 repetitions.
- Rest before performing any additional sets.
- Not all squats target the pelvic floor. Wide-legged or deep squats may make it difficult to retain a pelvic floor contraction. When strengthening the pelvic floor, narrow and shallow squats tend to be more beneficial.
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