The pelvic floor, also known as the “hammock” of your core, is very important to keep strong and mobile. It provides support for the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus and rectum in the female pelvis. In the male pelvis, the pelvic floor supports the bladder and rectum.
The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles and connective tissue that extends as a sling across the base of the pelvis.1 It is also comprised of two layers – the superficial perineal muscles and the deep pelvic diaphragm. Pelvic floor dysfunction and secondary stress incontinence negatively affect many young people, and as the population ages, more and more women and men will be affected.
In fact, a study of 998 participants from 2014 shows that the majority of women were unable to perform correct voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction. What’s more, almost all had poor strength.2 So whether you are pregnant, aging, a serious/recreational runner or just trying to get back into shape, it is very important to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Just because you can’t see it and it is not a superficial muscle, like your biceps, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to keep it strong and mobile to help prevent future issues from occurring.
Here are some great exercises to get you started with strengthening your pelvic floor:
Sitting or lying down with knees bent, you are going to contract the muscles that help to stop urine from flowing (only perform this when not urinating). Visualize stopping the flow of urine and holding in gas. Hold for about 3-5 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times and build up to two sets.
Lying on your back with knees bent, you are going to tilt your hips back toward the ground. Bring your belly button toward your spine until your back is flat against the surface while breathing out. Then breathe in while allowing your back to gently arch and your pelvis will rock forward. Hold for about 3-5 seconds, relax and repeat.
Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet shoulder width apart, lift the hips up into the air. Squeeze the glutes for about a 3 second hold. Relax and repeat 10 times.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and place a ball between your knees. Squeeze the ball and hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times. You can perform 2-3 sets of this exercise.
If you have any of the mentioned issues or would like to pursue an assessment of your pelvic health, we have physical therapists who specialize in treatment for the pelvic floor that can assist. Click the button below to schedule a free assessment. Free assessments are available in-clinic and online.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Marques, Andrea, Stothers, Lynn, Macnab, Andrew. The status of pelvic floor muscle trainin for women. Can Urol Assoc J. 2010 Dec; 4(6): 419-424
2. Tibaek S, Dehlendorff C. Pelvic floor muscle function in women with pelvic floor dysfunction; a retrospective chart review, 1992-2008. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 May;25(5): 663-9