The Carousel recently interviewed Always Discreet Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Lori Forner to discuss the pelvic floor, how they function, why they’re important, and how ways to keep them nice and strong.
Where are the pelvic floor muscles, and how do they function?
Lori Forner: The pelvic floor is a group of hammock-shaped muscles located under your pelvis that work to support your bladder, uterus and rectum, with the help of other supportive tissues like ligaments and fascia. The pelvic floor muscles are always active and function without you needing to consciously think about it, although there are times when they need to work harder and require precise coordination. Women with a weakened or compromised pelvic floor typically experience bladder leaks during activities that place additional pressure on these muscles. According to new data by Always Discreet, the most common incidents are sneezing (59%), coughing (58%), laughing (44%) or exercising (33%).
What causes a weakened pelvic floor?
Lori Forner: There are several reasons why some women develop weak and uncoordinated pelvic floor muscles. Among the leading causes of pelvic floor weakness is sustained and repeated pressure on the bladder experienced through pregnancy, constipation, straining on the toilet, obesity or being an elite athlete. Additional causes of compromised pelvic floor muscles include genetics, age and hormones, which can all determine the strength and elasticity of your body’s tissues. Enduring trauma to your pelvic floor muscles through childbirth or a severe accident can also compromise this muscle group, leading to urinary incontinence. Practicing pilates can be very effective in managing a weakened pelvic floor, however maximum protection can be best delivered by wearing Always Discreet incontinence liners, pads or underwear suitable for the severity of your bladder leaks.
5 go-to exercises to help strengthen and tone the pelvic floor
Bladder leaks are common in women of all ages, however most women don’t realise they can learn to strengthen and coordinate their pelvic floor muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises.
Certain exercises have been shown to help prevent those triggering bladder leak moments. These are my go-to exercises to help strength and tone the muscles.
- Side lying twist – Great stretch for the trunk, helps free up your ribcage so you can breathe better and great to work on timing of pelvic floor contraction before twisting back to start
- Bridges with ball squeeze – Great work for glutes and adductors at the same time as pelvic floor muscles
- Hands and knees hover – Great way to get some abdominal work in addition to pelvic floor, and it’s a little harder to find pelvic floor muscles (we all need a challenge)
- Squats from a chair – This is a great easy exercise with many ways to make harder, it’s something everyone does every day, and it’s really good for working on timing of the pelvic floor muscles (ie. “The knack”)
- Total body band – Working on glutes, back, shoulders, posture, you name it. All in one, and all to help pelvic floor