The pelvic floor muscles are among the most neglected muscle groups in strength exercises. Unfortunately, the muscles play several important roles. Here is a closer look at this unique muscle group and all the benefits of exercising.
What are the pelvic floor muscles?
Pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles and connective tissues that attach to the base of the pelvic bones. They are generally divided into superficial and deep muscle groups. The muscles work in tandem to protect organs within the pelvis. Moreover, pelvic floor muscles contain the pressure generated from straining the core and transmitting weight to the lower body. Furthermore, pelvic floor muscles form sphincters around the lower urinary tract and anorectal canal. As a result, the muscles are responsible for maintaining stool and urinary continence.
However, the attachments and configuration of the pelvic floor muscles vary in the male and female anatomy. Moreover, some functions are also unique. For example, pelvic floor muscles play a role in maintaining a penile erection in males, while in females, the muscles regulate blood flow and vaginal contraction during sex.
Like any other muscle group in the body, pelvic floor muscles can develop dysfunction, atrophy or a general decline in strength. The overall outcome is incontinence, poor sex drive and organ prolapse in severe cases. Fortunately, a weak pelvic floor can be managed and reversed in many cases without invasive procedures. The solution is pelvic floor exercises.
Types of pelvic floor exercises
Several exercises strengthen and improve the coordination of pelvic floor muscles. However, the exercises rely on good muscle activation.
Activation of the anterior pelvic floor muscle is achieved by replicating the action of holding urine midstream. On the other hand, the posterior group is activated by mimicking the act of holding in flatus. However, before commencing pelvic floor exercises, it’s crucial to relax and maintain a steady breathing pattern.
This is the most widely known pelvic floor exercise for beginners. It involves isometric contraction of the pelvic muscles through coordinated manoeuvres.
The first step in Kegels is holding the pelvic floor muscles in for five seconds. During this phase, it’s essential to maintain a controlled breathing pattern. After holding for 5 seconds, the next phase is to relax the muscles over another 5 seconds.
Ten cycles are recommended for the best results. Moreover, it’s important not to engage the muscles around your core, leg or buttocks during the exercise. Nonetheless, if fatigue kicks in, you should stop immediately and postpone the exercise. Moreover, any pain during the exercise is abnormal and warrants attention.
Kegel exercise is a progressive exercise. Therefore, each contraction and relaxation phase should improve as you continue practising the exercise.
The Kegel technique is great for strengthening pelvic floor muscles and resolving incontinence from poor muscle tone. Moreover, the exercise improves sexual function by enhancing the strength of an erection and the tone of the vaginal walls.
Sometimes fatigued pelvic floor muscles maintain a hypertonic state. As a result, it’s hard to relax the muscles, making passing stool and urine difficult.
Reverse Kegel is an approach that focuses on relaxing pelvic floor muscles to improve functionality. The first step in the reverse Kegel technique is to contract the pelvic muscle and relax as in the normal Kegel approach. The initial step creates a mental distinction between the two phases before drawing focus on relaxation. The second step is to go through a prolonged period of relaxation to relieve the tone around the muscles. This is achieved through subtle slow thrusts of the pelvis along the vertical plane while lying prone on a flat surface.
The reverse Kegels restores normal tone around pelvic floor muscles, which resolves obstructive incontinence and some cases of unexplained pelvic pain.
Who needs pelvic floor exercises?
Some indications of pelvic floor exercises are incontinence, unexplained pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual dysfunction and unexplained chronic lower back pain. The results from consistent exercise are remarkable, and many health practitioners and physiotherapists recommend this approach.
All in all, pelvic floor exercises are simple and easy to practice. They serve as a cure and prevention for a weak pelvic floor. Start your exercises today and enjoy the benefits.