Menopause and Pelvic Pain - The Best and Worst Pelvic Floor Exercises
The pelvic floor is an interconnected web of ligaments and muscles that keep your uterus and bladder in place. When the health of the pelvic floor declines, it starts to lose resilience, and you notice changes occurring in your bladder and bowels.
Women who are dealing with pelvic floor disorders will often develop symptoms of urinary or fecal incontinence. This embarrassing condition can cause problems in a social situation and at work, leaving you rushing to the bathroom before making a mistake in your underwear.
Fortunately, it's possible to strengthen your pelvic floor's health through a few simple exercises. If you're in your later thirties or forties, start doing these exercises every day, and you'll protect your pelvis against dysfunction in your 50s and 60s.
The Best Exercises for the Pelvic Floor
If you want to know how to keep your vagina healthy and your pelvic floor strong, try these exercises out and let us know what you think.
Kegels and Pelvic Lifts
One of the best ways to strengthen the pelvic floor is by using Kegel exercises. Kegels are an excellent therapy to treat the effects of menopause and pelvic pain, and they are easy enough to do every day, at any time.
You can do Kegels sitting on the train or in the car on the way to work. Take a 5-minute break at work to bang out a few sets or do them on the couch at night while watching your favorite shows. Kegels focus on activating and strengthening the pelvic floor through movement.
To complete your Kegel exercises, follow these steps.
- Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down in your bed
- Visualize locating and squeezing the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine while you're peeing
- After finding the muscles, tighten them, and lift the pelvic floor towards your navel
- Hold this top position for 3 to 5-seconds, and then release
- After releasing, rest for a few seconds, and then repeat the action
- Complete ten squeezes for one set
- Start with one set on your first week, and add consecutive sets each week until you can do four sets in a row
Squeeze then Release
The "squeeze and release" technique is also remarkably effective at building strength in the pelvic floor. For this exercise, you'll move through a set of rapid squeezes, training your pelvic floor to respond quickly. This exercise gives you more control over the pelvis and helps to strengthen the vaginal walls as well.
To perform a squeeze and release, follow these steps.
- Sit in a comfortable chair or lie on your bed and relax
- Focus on isolating the pelvic muscles
- Squeeze and release the pelvic floor as quickly as possible
- Repeat this squeeze for 20-reps, with minimal rest between squeezes
- Repeat the workout twice during the day
The half-bridge is an excellent exercise for building strength in the pelvis, glutes, and hips. Don't attempt this exercise if it causes you any discomfort. Follow these steps to complete the half-bridge.
- Lie don on your back on the floor
- Bring your feet halfway up to your buttocks, with your feet on the floor, and your legs bent a little more than 90-degrees
- Spread your arms out to your side for balance
- Left your buttocks from the floor, driving the movement with your hips
- Stop at the top position when you feel a stretch in your hips, glutes, and pelvis
- Hold the top position for 3-seconds, and release
- Rest for 5-seconds, and then complete another rep
- Make sure you get in two sets of 10 to 12-reps
Avoid these Exercises
Avoid the following exercises at all costs. These advanced movements may cause injury to you if you don't have the muscle memory and strength to complete the action.
- Sit-ups with your legs straight in the air for resistance
- Leg raises with both of your legs in the air
- Lifting heavy weights for minimal repetitions, such as barbel back squats or deadlifts
- High-impact activities that involve running and jumping
Make sure that you don't follow the age-old practice of trying to cut off your urine stream in mid-flow to train the pelvic floor. While this technique is useful, it may result in you not emptying your bladder properly.
This situation may result in the development of a urinary tract infection. Follow the exercises mentioned in the first section of this post, and you'll be on your way to building a strong pelvic floor.