5 min read
by Team Thinx | 04/10/2023
When you think of the word exercise, you probably picture yourself going for a run, lifting weights, or taking a yoga class. While those forms of exercise can help tone and strengthen muscles from top to bottom, they often forego a very important muscle group — your pelvic floor.
And if you’ve ever experienced an unannounced bladder leak at work or on a date, you’ll appreciate one of the biggest benefits of building stronger pelvic muscles: potentially fewer leaks and better bladder control.
Grab your workout mat and prepare for a quick workout sesh as you learn how to exercise pelvic floor muscles. Before you know it, you’ll be taking the day by storm without worrying about any accidental sprinkles setting you back.
If you are looking for the easiest way to improve a weak pelvic floor, the Kegel exercise will be your go-to. Even if you’ve never done a Kegel exercise before, chances are you’ve heard the name. Maybe one of your friends was relaying how they improved their sex life. Perhaps your cousin mentioned how your aunt used to do them to stop herself from peeing when she coughed or sneezed.
At the time, you might have thought, “That’ll never happen to me!”
But as we age, our pelvic floor muscles may not remain as strong as they used to be. And if you’ve recently had a baby, are going through menopause, or have other health conditions, your chances for urinary incontinence may be higher.
Enter: the Kegel. When done regularly — and correctly — they can strengthen your pelvic floor so you’re less likely to experience unwanted leaks.
However, the key to success is using the correct muscle, and that’s something that can be challenging to figure out. To make sure you’re using your pelvic floor instead of your abdomen or glutes, try this quick trick while you’re peeing to help you find your pelvic floor muscles:
Step 1: The next time you’re using the toilet, stop peeing mid-flow.
Step 2: Concentrate on the muscles you’re using to stop the flow of urine.
Step 3: Repeat the process one or two more times to grasp a better understanding of where your pelvic floor muscles are located.
Pro tip: Only do this a few times, or you may run the risk of getting a UTI.
Once you feel confident about which muscle group to use when performing Kegels, follow these tips to perfect your Kegel exercise routine:
Tighten your pelvic floor. You can do this in any position that’s comfortable for you. Squeeze and hold for three seconds.
Repeat five to 10 times. Feel free to take a break after five Kegels. If you think you can continue, you can complete up to 10 Kegels while focusing on the feeling of your pelvic muscles tightening and lifting upward.
Complete three sets daily. For the most effective results, aim for three sets of 10 Kegels each day. As you improve, increase the length of time you hold each repetition for up to 10 seconds.
If Kegels aren’t your thing (or if you have your eyes on the prize and want to up the ante), there are plenty of other exercises that can help improve muscle tone and strengthen your pelvic floor. Those familiar with booty blasting exercises may be long-time friends with bridges, as they’re known for helping to activate and grow the glutes.
However, if you perform them correctly, they can also activate your pelvic floor and begin strengthening those muscles as well. With a mat rolled out on the floor, try these steps to perfect your bridge technique:
Step 1: Lie flat on your back.
Step 2: Bend your knees 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor.
Step 3: Raise your hips off of the ground using your glutes, pelvic floor, and hamstrings.
Step 4: Hold the position for five seconds. You may begin to feel slight discomfort from the muscle groups you’re using to hold up your hips — that’s okay.
Step 5: Slowly bring your hips back down to their starting position.
Step 6: Repeat three sets of 15 repetitions while taking 60-second breaks between sets.
Eventually, three sets of 15 feel might begin to feel like a walk in the park. If this happens, you can incorporate a lightweight exercise band to add resistance and further work out your pelvic floor muscles.
Simply pull the exercise band over your knees and leave it about two inches above your kneecap. Before raising your hips, push your knees outwards toward the band so that you feel a slight resistance. Then, follow the standard bridge steps.
No, we’re not talking about clamshells of the seafood variety (although this exercise did earn its moniker from the very same shellfish). That’s because when you’re performing this exercise, your legs take the shape of — you guessed it — an opening and closing clamshell.
Including clamshells in your exercise regimen may help strengthen your glutes and stabilize your pelvis and pelvic floor muscle. So when it comes to how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you might want to add an order of clamshells to the lineup:
Step 1: Use a yoga mat to lie on your side with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Your legs, knees, shins, and ankles will be stacked on top of one another.
Step 2: Let your bottom forearm rest on the ground for support and stabilization.
Step 3: Lift your upper knee as high as possible while keeping your feet together and engaging your pelvic floor, core, and glutes.
Step 4: Lower your knee to its original position.
Step 5: Repeat three sets of 8 to 10 repetitions for each leg.
As you become more comfortable, you can add more repetitions to each set. You might even want to incorporate a light band into the movement as well. The world is your oyster (ahem — clamshell).
This yoga pose utilizes multiple muscle groups to stabilize your body, including your core and pelvic floor. To complete the bird dog pose:
Step 1: Use a yoga mat to support your weight as you position yourself into a tabletop pose. If you’re not familiar with it, picture a rectangular dining table. You’ll use your body to become the tabletop, allowing your shoulders to line up with your wrists and your hips to your knees.
Step 2: Engage your core and pelvic muscles before moving. Once engaged, lift your right arm forward and your left leg back. When you’re done, they’ll both be extended straight outward, acting as an extension of your tabletop.
Step 3: Use your core and pelvic muscles to stabilize and hold this position for three breaths before slowly lowering your extended arm and leg.
Step 4: Repeat step three with your other arm and leg.
This last pelvic floor exercise is an excellent way to begin or end your workout, as it more closely resembles a stretch. It can open up your inner-thigh muscles which may ease the strain on your pelvic floor. It can also release pressure on your bladder (which might relieve some of the tension causing incontinence).
To complete this relaxing stretch, complete these easy-to-follow steps:
Step 1: Lie on a yoga mat on your back.
Step 2: Place your feet together and let your knees fall away from each other, opening into a butterfly position.
Step 3: Hold this position for 30 seconds and then rest. Complete a total of 3 to 4 repetitions.
If the stretch feels too demanding, you can place yoga blocks or rolled-up blankets under your knees for added support and stretch the right muscles comfortably.
Before your first unforeseen experience with urinary incontinence, you may have never heard of your pelvic floor, let alone ways to strengthen it. To gain a better understanding of why it’s beneficial to incorporate pelvic floor muscle exercises into your workouts, it’s helpful to grasp the intimate relationship between your pelvic floor and bladder.
Your pelvic floor muscles are located under your bladder. They give you the ability to release (or not release) pee, poop, and the occasional fart whenever you want. Most of the time, those weak pelvic floor muscles remain contracted, effectively tightening the openings of the vagina, anus, and urethra. But when you’re ready to use the bathroom, your pelvic muscles relax and allow pee (or poo) to come through.
However, if your pelvic muscle are weakened, they’re less likely to keep themselves contracted when you need them to. The result is the occasional leak when you laugh, sneeze, or cry — or worse, a bladder that fully empties without your permission.
Living with incontinence comes with its challenges, but incorporating exercises that target your pelvic floor muscles may help to lessen the frequency of recurring bladder leaks. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long you’ll live with incontinence, there is a way to prepare for surprise accidents or even incontinence after childbirth, and it’s Thinx for All Leaks.
With Thinx underwear, you can choose the best incontinence product for your needs. You can leave the house feeling confident, covered, and ready to conquer the day. Our reusable incontinence undies absorb liquid, so — accidents or not — you’ll come home feeling comfortable and dry
Whether you’re going for a run, headed to yoga class, or going for a walk to enjoy the fresh air, you can say goodbye to pantyliners and hello to living your life worry-free again with Thinx.
At Thinx, we strive to provide our readers with the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information. Our content is crafted by experienced contributors who ground their work in research and data. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked within the text or listed at the bottom to lead readers to the original source.
Mayo Clinic. Urinary Incontinence. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808
Cleveland Clinic. Kegel Exercises.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14611-kegel-exercises
Oxygen Mag. 6 Effective Pelvic Floor Exercises — That Aren’t Kegels. https://www.oxygenmag.com/training-tips-for-women/6-effective-pelvic-floor-exercises-that-arent-kegels/
NIH. The impact of pelvic floor muscle training on the quality of life of women with urinary incontinence: a systematic literature review.
Shape. The Clamshell Exercise Is a Glute-Targeting Move You Don't Want to Skip.https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/butt-workouts/clamshell-exercise
Hamilton Health Sciences. How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor. https://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/share/how-to-strengthen-your-pelvic-floor/
Continence. Pelvic Floor Muscles.https://www.continence.org.au/about-continence/continence-health/pelvic-floor
by Team Thinx