While urinary incontinence affects millions of people across the UK, for certain people some things can be done.
Working on your pelvic floor muscles will help to strengthen them, and while it won’t cure incontinence, pelvic floor exercises can benefit those living with incontinence.
There’s a common misconception that stopping while mid-urination can help strengthen the muscles. However, this isn’t true and could result in you not completely emptying your bladder. Therefore, we’ve highlighted some exercises men and women can do to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises for women
There are several different pelvic floor exercises that women can call upon to help them to strengthen their pelvic floor. We’ve listed five of our favourites you can do at home below.
You’ve probably heard of Kegel exercise before, and that’s because Kegel exercises are when you practice contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Also known as pelvic muscle training, you can practice these by contracting the muscles and holding for five seconds and releasing for another five. It’s best to do these 10 times, three times a day.
An exercise we all know, this is one that engages the largest muscles in the body, while providing a huge payoff for your strength. To see results from undertaking squats, you should aim to do at least 15 each time.
Great for your glutes, the bridge can also activate the pelvic floor muscles. Simply lie on the floor, keeping your back flat, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, keeping your arms straight at your sides. Then pushing through your heels, raise your hips from the ground by squeezing your glutes, pelvic floor and hamstrings. For success, pause for one to two seconds before returning to your starting position. Do at least 10 – 15 and two to three sets, resting for around a minute between each set.
A foundation of many Pilates workouts, this is a great way to activate your hips and pelvic floor. Start with your back on the floor and your knees bent and legs up and touching. Then slowly split your legs so the knees fall outwards. Do 10 – 15 at a time and three sets.
Requiring balance and stability, this full-body move will help you to engage several muscles, including your pelvic floor. Start on all fours, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips and your back straight. Brace your core, draw your shoulder blades down and back towards your hips, then move by straightening your left leg and right arm at the same time, while keeping your pelvis neutral. Hold for two seconds without raising or lowering your head. Switch to your other arm and legs and do these 10 times for three sets.
Pelvic floor exercises for men
While there are less pelvic floor exercises for men than women, below, you’ll find three different ways to strengthen your pelvic floor without leaving your home.
Kegel exercise is great for both men and women. Try tightening your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds at a time and then relaxing them for three seconds. Do these three times a day. You can find your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urination mid-flow or by tightening the muscle that stops you from passing gas.
This involves using the muscles you use to stop passing gas. Close and draw the muscles as you would if you were trying to stop yourself passing gas while ensuring you don’t tighten the buttock muscles. Then, draw up the muscles around the urethra as though you’re trying to stop urinating midflow. Trying to hold this for a count of 10, then relax for another count of 10 and repeat until you feel tired.
This follows the same process as above. However, rather than holding to the count of 10, try holding for one second and then relaxing for one second. Repeat until tired.
Exercises to avoid
If you have a weak pelvic floor and you’re working on strengthening it, there are certain exercises that you should avoid in general. These exercises may have the opposite effect and could even weaken the pelvic floor muscle.
Therefore, you should wait until you’ve undertaken several months of pelvic floor training before entertaining any of these exercises:
- Sit-ups with straight legs in the air
- Double leg lifts
- High-impact activities
If you have any questions regarding your pelvic floor muscles or incontinence products, please get in touch today.
Contact us from Monday – Friday between 9 am and 5 pm on 01204 895410, and a member of our team will be happy to help.