We start to lose 3%-5% of our muscle mass as we age after our thirties. This might not sound like a lot but over time it adds up especially if you have been ignoring your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is made up of multiple muscles that aid in sexual function and help to hold in urine, gas, or stool.
You want to start thinking of exercising your pelvic floor before you have symptoms such as leaking urine, farting in a library, or worse having a bowel movement in your nice white pants.
Kegel exercises: Thirty percent of individuals do Kegels incorrectly.
Kegel exercises are performed by tightening up the pelvic floor like you are holding in urine, gas, or stool. Firstly, there is a misunderstanding that these exercises should be done while urinating. Only do these exercises while urinating the first time to figure out which muscles are needed to stop or slow your urine stream. Don't continue to do the exercises this way because it can increase your risk of kidney infection by preventing proper drainage of the bladder. Make sure you are envisioning tightening and lifting your pelvic floor and not bearing down like you are having a bowel movement.
Sometimes placing a dilator, jade egg, finger, or partners finger in the vagina can give you something to squeeze against to assess if you are doing the exercise properly. Squeeze and hold for a count of 10. Repeat this ten times. Start off doing this 2 times a week and increase to 4-5 times a week over time.
You can also do something called "quick flicks." This entails tightening and releasing your muscles quickly to a count of ten. Then rest and repeat 5-10 more times. Start doing these exercises twice a week and gradually increase to 4-5 times a week.
Other exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor include:
Seated Adductor Exercises:
Sitting in a chair, roll up a towel, use a pillow, or place a ball between the knees. Squeeze together and hold for a count of 10. Then Relax. Repeat 10 times.
Do Quick Flicks; Squeeze and release rhythmically for a count a 10, then rest and repeat 5-10 times.
Start doing these exercises twice a week and gradually increase to 4-5 times a week.
Lying on your back on the floor, bend your legs and lift your pelvis up to the ceiling.
Hold for a count of 10, then relax. Repeat 10 times
Quick flicks: Lift pelvis off the floor. For these quick flicks while holding up the pelvis tighen and relax but don't release all the way back to the floor until you have completed 10 quick tighten and relax sequences. Rest back on the floor then lift up and repeat 5-10 times. Start with doing these exercised twice weekly and gradually increase to 4-5 times a week.
Standing against the wall, gently lower yourself until you are in a seated type of position. Hold for a count of 10, then slide yourself back to a standing position. Repeat 2-3 times. Start with doing these exercises 2 times a week. You can gradually increase the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercises.
Stop any of these exercises if you develop pain.
Patients with pelvic pain should first check with their healthcare practitioner to see if these exercises are ok to perform.