woman practicing yoga at home with her daughter playfully sitting on her

At-Home Pelvic Exercises for Beginners

If you're struggling with incontinence and can barely laugh or cough without some bladder leakage, you're far from the only one. Other issues such as painful sex may also be related to the pelvic floor, as problems with this area are not uncommon and nothing to feel embarrassed about.

Strengthening these pelvic floor muscles is important to keep bladder leaks at bay, especially as we age, and this powerful set of muscles can be lengthened, strengthened, and toned anytime, anywhere. Thankfully, beginner pelvic floor exercises are easy and efficient to incorporate into the activities you already do everyday. We've narrowed down four convenient ways to help get you started.

1. Lift, Push, Pull, Climb

Turns out, you can exercise your pelvic muscles while moving around the house and attending to everyday activities. Routine motions, such as pushing, pulling, and lifting objects, activate your pelvic floor if you do them safely and in good form, such as bending with your knees and not your back. Once you've completed your weekend to-do list, there's a good chance you've already done some pushing, pulling, climbing, and lifting. 

Incorporating beginner pelvic floor exercises into your day is as easy as activating those muscles. If you climb ladders or stairs regularly or have to step up on footstools to reach things, you’re working your pelvic floor muscles. Just be careful and avoid straining yourself. Going through the motions correctly will strengthen and tone your pelvic floor while helping prevent bladder leaks.

2. Stand Up

Standing is one of the easiest ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles because bad posture is one of the greatest contributors to muscle tightness and pain in the pelvic floor area. The wrong posture either contributes to or exacerbates dysfunction, potentially making current symptoms of incontinence worse. Stretching and strengthening can help improve both your posture and your pelvic floor, so make it a habit. The best way to do this is by simply tightening and pulling up those pelvic floor muscles, even during simple tasks like standing. Incorporate breathwork into this to help the pelvic floor work as it should. Inhale before standing to relax the pelvic floor muscles and exhale as you stand to engage them.

3. Run or Jog

Whether you're a workout aficionado or prefer only occasional jogging or running, the natural movement incurred during your exercise routine provides a pelvic floor workout. One vital factor to keep in mind, however, is to avoid adding Kegels or other beginner pelvic floor exercises on top of the running. Working out your pelvic floor while running causes extra internal pressure and may weaken the muscles rather than strengthen them, which can make bladder leaks worse. 

If you run regularly, pelvic floor issues are a bigger risk because the area experiences extra pressure during every stride. Avoid hard surfaces while running or jogging in favor of softer terrain, and reduce speed, distance, and stride length to cut down on pelvic floor stress. Simple habits, such as wearing well-cushioned footwear, can improve your workout routine while protecting your pelvic floor.

4. Use the Restroom

Every time you use the restroom, your pelvic floor muscles are receiving a robust workout. They control the bladder, vagina, and rectum. For proper elimination, your pelvic floor muscles need to relax completely. Using a stepstool can help you get in the right position to help those muscles relax. Never push or strain when you're using the bathroom, and give yourself plenty of time. Trying to urinate too quickly, for example, can lead to leaks after standing up if the muscles didn't fully relax and allow the bladder to fully empty. 

Always Keep Moving

Your pelvic floor is at work 24/7 to support your organs, so you might be surprised how often this important group of muscles is actually getting used. These routine activities prove that engaging and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can be accomplished without straying too far from your normal routine. These are already activities that take up space in your schedule, and it's easy to insert additional choices into the mix. Take it a step further by adding Kegels or other pelvic floor exercises into your day. Keeping these muscles strong and engaged goes a long way toward improving bladder leaks. 

How to Engage Your Pelvic Floor Properly

While completing beginner pelvic floor exercises is doable at home, it's vital to contract them properly. If you're only contracting the muscles that control urine flow, for instance, but not the rectal muscles, means that you're not getting the full benefits of the exercise. Whether you're standing, running, or using the restroom, the proper way to reach every muscle of the pelvic floor is to engage both areas  simultaneously. While this may take some time to get used to, once you've found your pelvic floor and can engage those muscles effectively, you'll find even more ways to add these simple exercises into your day. 

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