Pelvic floor exercise also known as Kegel exercise helps strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles, and connective tissues that span the area from the public bone to the tailbone and from one sitting bone to the other. These muscles work together to provide support for the pelvic organs which include; the bladder, uterus, and rectum. They play a role in maintaining urinary and fecal continence. Kegel exercises help keep your pelvic floor strong, they can also help improve conditions like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Here are a few benefits of pelvic floor exercises.
- Bladder Control; the pelvic floor muscles play a role in controlling the release of urine, a strong pelvic floor muscle can help you suppress the urge to urinate and prevent leaks especially when you cough, sneeze, or engage in physical activities. It can also help maintain the proper position of the bladder and prevent it from sagging or dropping. By exercising and strengthening your bladder, you can improve the ability of these muscles to contract and support the pelvic organs.
- Improving Urinary Incontinence; stress incontinence is a common issue for many women, especially after childbirth or with age. This incontinence occurs when there is increased pressure on the bladder, causing urine leakage during activities like sneezing, laughing, or exercising. Strengthening the pelvic floor can help prevent this. Pelvic floor exercises are commonly recommended during pregnancy and after childbirth to help with recovery and strengthening.
- Alleviation of Pelvic Pain; conditions like endometriosis or chronic pelvic pain can cause discomfort and pain in the pelvic area. Pelvic floor exercises can alleviate some of this discomfort by improving blood circulation, reducing muscle tension, and promoting better muscle function in the pelvic region. It can also be a vital component of rehabilitation following pelvic surgery. They help in regaining strength, mobility, and control in the pelvic region.
- Postpartum Recovery; pelvic floor exercises are important for women during and after pregnancy, they can aid in maintaining muscle tone and strength in the pelvic region, supporting the growing uterus during pregnancy and aiding postpartum recovery. Also, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help reduce the risk of lower back pain which is a common issue in the postpartum period. If an episiotomy or tear occurs during birth, pelvic floor exercises can promote faster healing and reduce discomfort by improving blood flow to the perineal area and facilitating the healing process.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse; regular pelvic floor exercises can prevent or reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, this is a condition in which the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum shift from their normal positions. Pelvic floor exercise can teach individuals how to contract and relax these muscles effectively, this can help prevent issues like over-tightening or excessive strain, which can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse.
There are three common exercises that can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, they are; Kegel, Squats, and Bridge.
- Kegel; this is the most popular form of exercise, to do this, you need to contact the pelvic floor, hold for five seconds, and then release for five seconds, this is called a set. Repeat this set ten times, it is advisable to do one set in the morning and one set in the night.
- Squats; squats also help to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees like you want to sit down on a chair, then push yourself back up, you can repeat this too in a set of ten, twice a day, one set in the morning, the second set at night.
- Bridge; this is commonly used to strengthen the buttocks, but it can also work for pelvic floor muscles. Do this by laying down on the floor with your knees bent, pushing your hips off the ground by squeezing your glutes and pelvic floor muscles, hold for at least 5 seconds, then slowly release it back to the ground. Repeat in the morning and night.