What Are the Best Pelvic Floor Exercises? A Complete Guide
A recent study of 25,425 women found that 32 percent had at least one pelvic floor disorder diagnosis. Often, medical practitioners recommend pelvic floor exercises as a way to overcome PFD. These exercises, along with emerging treatments such as EMSELLA, can strengthen pelvic floor muscles and help with urinary incontinence and other symptoms.
But women aren’t the only ones who should look into the benefits of pelvic floor exercises and treatments. Around 16 percent of men also have pelvic floor issues which can affect their sexual function and cause incontinence.
Keep reading to find out more about PFD and the pelvic floor exercises and treatments that could help you.
What Is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a collection of muscles and connective tissues that span the floor of the pelvis and connect to bones at the base of the pelvic area. The pelvic floor muscles also enclose various internal organs. These include the intestines, bladder, urethra, anus, rectum, and if present, the uterus, cervix, and vagina.
Pelvic Floor Function and Dysfunction
Pelvic floor muscles are also critical to various daily functions, such as urinating and defecating. Pelvic floor muscles also contribute to sexual function, including arousal and orgasm. What’s more, they help stabilize your hips when walking and standing.
The weakening of these muscles can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). As a rule, PFD involves pelvic pain and urinary and/or bowel incontinence. It can also lead to sexual dysfunction and pain during sexual intercourse.
Pregnancy and childbirth are common causes of PFD. But PFD can also occur as a result of menopause, age, sexual abuse, or surgery. Certain habits such as repeated heavy lifting or prolonged sitting can contribute to PFD. The same goes for conditions such as obesity, endometriosis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
The Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises
Like the other muscles of your body, those that form the pelvic floor work best when they’re strong and can contract and release. Exercising these muscles can help you regain this strength and increase the control you have over your pelvic floor and its functions. In turn, this may reduce the symptoms linked to PFD, resulting in better control of the bladder, bowels, and, where present, the uterus.
Strengthening the pelvic floor may also lead to better sex. There’s evidence to suggest that improved pelvic floor function can reduce erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems. And for those with a vagina, regular pelvic floor exercises may boost sexual sensation and sexual function.
The Best Pelvic Floor Exercises
Now you know their benefits, what are some pelvic floor exercises you can try? Kegel exercises are great for working on your pelvic function almost anywhere, while toe taps and heel sliders are effective and accessible. And the best part is, all these exercises are simple enough to master in minutes and require no equipment. Here’s how to do them:
Kegel Quick Flicks
Exercises for your pelvic floor muscles don’t come much simpler than these. Although you’ll need to concentrate at first, once you have the hang of Kegel exercises, you can do them pretty much anywhere, anytime:
- Start by lying on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Engage your pelvic floor muscles by imagining that you want to stop the flow of urine and avoid passing gas at the same time. This should cause a sensation of inward pulling across the length of your pelvic floor. This is the kind of full contraction you want to aim for during this exercise.
- To begin, exhale and pull your navel into your spine while contracting and releasing your pelvic floor muscles. Aim to contract them for one full second before releasing.
- While maintaining steady breathing throughout, repeat this quick Kegel move 10 times. Do two or three sets with a 10-second rest between each one.
These quick contractions can activate your pelvic floor muscles faster and help make them stronger. That said, over time you can build up to contractions that last longer than one second at a time.
If you’re looking for pelvic floor exercise ideas beyond the usual Kegel exercises, heel sliders are a great option to try:
- Start in the same position as before, with your back on the floor, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your pelvis should in a neutral position.
- Inhale deep into your rib cage then exhale through your mouth.
- Lock in your core and contract your pelvic floor, bringing everything inward
- Maintain the connection in your deep core and slide your right heel away from your body in a slow, controlled motion.
- When you’ve found your furthest point, bring your right leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat this move 10 times on the right side before switching to the left leg.
Although they’re not as easy to do wherever you are as Kegel exercises, heel sliders target the deep abdominal muscles and encourage stronger pelvic floor contractions.
Toe taps can increase your core stability and strengthen your pelvic floor through prolonged, controlled contractions:
- Position yourself as before, with your back on the floor, knees bent, and pelvis in neutral.
- When you’re ready to start, inhale into your rib cage and exhale through your mouth.
- Lock in your core and draw your entire pelvic floor up into a full contraction.
- In a slow, controlled motion, lift one leg so that it’s parallel to the floor in a tabletop position. Move your leg back down to the starting position in the same slow manner. Tap your foot on the floor and then repeat the action.
- Do 12-20 sets of toe taps with the right leg, making sure to engage your core and pelvic floor throughout. Repeat the same with the other leg after a short rest.
Toe taps shouldn’t strain your back or any other part of your body if your execution is correct. That said, if you are already trying to manage chronic back pain, you should consult your doctor before attempting these exercises.
EMSELLA: An Alternative to Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can be effective but they’re not the only way to strengthen your pelvic floor. EMSELLA is an emerging option for those with pelvic floor dysfunction and symptoms such as incontinence. You can find EMSELLA offered as one of our many family wellness services here at Total Family Wellness, but what is ELMSELLA and how does it work?
What Is ELMSELLA?
The EMSELLA chair is a breakthrough treatment for intimate wellness. This treatment can strengthen and lift your pelvic floor and reduce incontinence with electromagnetic technology. EMSELLA can also help men with erectile dysfunction and some EMSELLA patients have reported improvements in sexual pleasure following treatment.
The name EMSELLA comes from combining EM for electromagnetic with sella, the Latin word for chair. During EMSELLA treatments, electromagnetic pulses run through the chair to stimulate and contract all your pelvic floor muscles at once. As well as being safe and effective, EMSELLA is FDA-approved, painless, and involves no downtime.
Although EMSELLA treatments can vary from center to center, a full treatment usually consists of two sessions per week over a total of six sessions.
How Does EMSELLA Work?
EMSELLA treatments use a type of electromagnetic technology called High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Field (HIFEM). This allows EMSELLA to cause muscle contractions without interfacing with the brain. What’s more, some research indicates that HIFEM may be effective at treating incontinence.
One study showed how HIFEM sessions reduced incontinence for 81 percent of participants. These participants saw improvements immediately after the recommended six-session treatment plan.
A follow-up three months after the original study found that these promising results also continued long after the trials. After three months, most participants had fewer leaks than before. And 34 percent of participants no longer had incontinence.
Another study on postpartum pelvic function and urinary incontinence supports these findings. The study compares the EMSELLA chair with an at-home electrical stimulation and a no-treatment control group. The results showed that the EMSELLA chair was the most effective by a significant amount. What’s more, both the patient self-reports and scans of their pelvic muscles showed this.
Your Guide to Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor exercises have long been a consistent and effective option for strengthening the pelvic floor. Through this, they can help reduce the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. And, as this guide shows, these exercises are available to everyone and easy to perform anywhere with no equipment.
That said, pelvic floor exercises are no longer the only way to improve your pelvic floor functioning. Although it’s still new, EMSELLA is already making waves as a revolutionary treatment for PFD. And, since we now offer EMSELLA at Total Family Wellness, it’s easier than ever to find an EMSELLA treatment near you.
For more information on pelvic floor dysfunction or to book a treatment, contact us here at Total Family Wellness today.