Matilda Andersson shares 5 exercises that will help you power up your pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor muscles (PFM’s) play a significant role in women’s health and quality of life. The PFM’s work in harmony with the thoracic diaphragm, the muscle that facilitates breathing, and the deep core muscles.
The relationship between these muscles and their ability to work together is crucial for maintaining a healthy pelvic floor, and proper filling and emptying of the bladder.
Matilda Andersson, Practitioner at Happy Healthy You, Australian-based health and lifestyle company, shares the following exercises which are great for building awareness of the PFMs and the breath, toning and relaxing the pelvic floor and strengthening the deep core muscles.
Five exercises to power up your pelvic floor
While movement and body awareness is an integral part of healing and bodily support, Andersson recommends pairing these exercises with adequate hydration to move waste out of the body, eating fruit & veg that are alkaline forming to create a calming effect on the bladder, and taking Happy Bladder supplements to improve bladder tone and reduce bladder accidents.
1. Pelvic Breathing
This Pelvic Breathing exercise is a gentle and efficient way to retrain the pelvic floor and improve the functionality of the PFMs. Pelvic breathing works both to tone and relax the PFMs.
This exercise can be done sitting on a deflated pilates ball, bolster or cushions underneath the base of the pelvis. This support will provide feedback to feel and sense the subtle movement of the pelvic floor as we breathe.
- Sit comfortably on a bolster or pillow
- Inhale through the nose and visualise the breath moving down towards the pelvic floor
- Feel the base of the pelvic floor widening, opening and gently stretching
- Exhale and visualise the sit bones, pubic bone and tail bone moving together while creating a gentle lift of the PFMs up towards the heart.
- Fully release then repeat this process for 8-12 breaths or as long as comfortable.
2. Supine Kegel
Kegel exercises, done with awareness and as much focus on relaxation as on toning the PFMs, are highly recommended. This is a great activating exercise before moving on with the following exercises.
- Lying down on your back, resting your awareness by the base of the pelvic floor.
- Connect to the natural flow of your breath.
- Visualise the breath moving all the way down to the pelvic bowl and bones with each inhalation, then visualising the breath moving up towards the heart with each exhalation
- On the inhalation, sense the widening of the pelvic floor and these bone-points
- On the exhalation, visualise the sit bones, pubic bone and tail bone moving together while creating a gentle contraction and a lift of the PFMs up towards the heart. At the same time, draw the navel very gently in towards the spine, activating the transversus abdominis, creating a ‘brace’.
- Fully relax and repeat 5 -10 times.
The following exercises will bring in different movement patterns to further strengthen the PFMs and deep abdominal muscles, utilizing the above techniques.
3. Bridge pose
After completing the activating exercises above, the bridge pose—done with awareness and toning the PFMs—is a great exercise for not only strengthening the PFMs but also the abdominal and back muscles.
Breathing is particularly important during this exercise. Make sure you manage your breathing and take deep breaths while completing the bridge pose.
- Lying down on your back, place your feet firmly on the ground with a block between your thighs close to the knees.
- Gently find the pelvic floor engagement like in the Supine Kegel while creating a ‘brace’, contracting the transversus abdominis.
- Press the feet into the ground, squeeze the block and lift the pelvis off the floor.
- Hold and take 2-5 deep breaths while maintaining the brace.
- Release down and tip your knees side to side to release tension.
- Repeat 3-5 times
4. Leg press
Leg press exercises are a great way to strengthen the deep core muscles. Activating exercises are a must before beginning this technique.
- Lying down on your back, bring your knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your back in a natural position on the floor and place your hands on your thighs.
- Gently push your hands into your thighs making sure your legs don’t move.
- Continue this by pressing into your thighs for five seconds, while continuously breathing and then rest.
- Repeat ten times or as tolerated.
5. Heel taps
Heel tap exercises are a more challenging movement to further strengthen the PFMs and deep abdominal muscles. It is crucial to be utilizing the above breathing and awareness techniques.
- Lying down on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Arms resting on the floor.
- Back in a natural position, holding the trunk stable and a slight engagement of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.
- Release the right knee slightly away from you on an inhalation, then release the left to meet the right on exhalation.
- Draw the right knee back up to 90 degrees on the next inhalation, followed by the left on exhalation.
- Continue in this down-down, up-up movement pattern 5 -10 times, rest and repeat the movement pattern starting with the left leg.
Watch Matilda demonstrate the above pelvic floor exercises & tips for a happy healthy bladder in this YouTube video below.
For further information or advice, connect with Matilda via the Happy Healthy You Community groups here or listen in to the Happy Healthy You Podcast.
About Matilda Andersson
Matilda Andersson BSc (Biomed. Ex.) is a pre-and-postnatal trainer, yoga teacher and certified women’s health coach. Matilda has been working with the body and movement as a personal trainer and yoga teacher for over a decade. Her passion for women’s health and guiding women to reconnect and heal their bodies through a holistic approach has led her to the journey of becoming a certified Integrative Women’s Health Coach and Fertility Awareness Educator. Matilda is part of the practitioner team at Happy Healthy You with a vision to support and guide women towards a healthier, happier and more balanced life.
About Happy Healthy You
Happy Healthy You is an Australian-based health and lifestyle company, established by Olympian, Lisa Curry and Naturopath, Women’s Hormonal Specialist and Author, Jeff Butterworth, to provide women with information, products and natural alternatives to hormonal imbalance.