Newsflash: if pelvic floor health isn’t at the top of your mind, it should be. Maintaining control over your pelvic floor muscles can help prevent pelvic floor dysfunction and its symptoms (like incontinence, constipation, and even painful sexual intercourse) from becoming a burden in your daily life.
The great thing about kegels is that once you’ve learned how to do them, you can go through a routine easily without sprinting to the gym or even being alone in a private place – you can do certain kegel exercises standing in line for lunch, or sitting at a cafe table, without anyone being the wiser.
First, you’ve got to find the right muscles, though. For women, this is usually easily achieved by placing a clean finger inside the vagina and attempting to tighten the vaginal muscles around it. Another way to locate them in both men and women is to stop the flow of urine mid-stream, but this isn’t recommended as a repeated practice as holding your pee can lead to a UTI.
If you need a little assistance or prefer to be guided through a daily routine, Elvie Trainer might just be your new best friend. If you’d rather not shell out any cash just yet, add these pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine to get on your way to a happier, healthier pelvic floor.
Find a seated position with good posture, then contract your pelvic muscles that you identified earlier. Try to focus on just those muscles alone, without tightening the leg, buttock, or abdomen muscles instead. Hold for at least four seconds, then focus on releasing completely. To get the most benefits from this exercise, try holding for longer squeezes (up to 10 seconds) and then relax for the same amount of time, or do short bursts (one-second holds) to activate the fast-twitch muscles in your pelvic floor.
Squats are great for a lot of major muscle groups (as long as you’re doing them correctly), and can also be super helpful in building pelvic floor strength. Just make sure your feet are hip-width apart, keep your knees in line with your toes, and brace your lower back as you squat down, and then rise up back to standing. Focus on engaging your ab muscles here, as this will help bring your pelvic floor along for the ride.
Lie on your back with hands at your sides (palms down) and plant your feet on the ground hip-width apart, about a foot away from your buttocks. Keeping your back straightened, use your leg, ab, and pelvic floor muscles to push your hips off the floor into the air so that your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then release back to the ground. To add another layer of complexity, alternate marching your feet up and down off the mat (just a few inches) while holding the pose.
Lie on your back again, but pull your legs up so that your thighs are straight up in the air with shins parallel to the floor (knees should be at 90 degrees). In this position, you should already feel engagement in your abdomen and inner thighs. Slowly and with control, split your legs open so that both knees fall outward until you reach the limit of comfort, then pull them both back in. Repeat at least 10 times per set.
This exercise requires the most balance of the bunch, and will engage a bunch of muscles at once. Start on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Keep the neck and spine straight, but neutral. While engaging your core muscles, lift your right arm out straight ahead in front of the body, while simultaneously lifting and straightening the left leg to the back. Lower them both back to starting position together, and then repeat the movement on the alternating side. Keep your face facing down and your spine straight for the duration of the exercise.
Adding these exercises into your current routine can help ensure that your pelvic floor is getting the same attention as all your other muscle groups. When full on bird dog isn’t reasonable in the public space you’re in, focus on the quiet, discreet kegels that are much easier to hide, but still super effective.