Is there incorrect information still out there about our pelvic floor muscles? ABSOLUTELY.
There is a best pelvic floor exercise that everyone should be doing
WRONG -Its not WHAT you are doing…Its HOW you are doing it!
There are a lot of posts that state the 3 best exercises for your core, the 5 best exercises for your pelvic floor muscles (PFM’s)….and there is nothing wrong with this. Heck, I’m sure I’ll post the same thing because they are always giving great exercises and it draws someones attention in, in order to read the post. But, everyone should know there really isn’t a BEST exercise. There are many, many great exercises and you can do them all…but it you aren’t actively engaging your pelvic floor muscles, you will be wasting your time.
1.The first and most important thing to check is whether or not you are able to properly contract and release your pelvic floor muscles. You need to make a visit to your neighbourhood pelvic floor physiotherapist for a thorough check, but if this isn’t something you are able to do, then there is a simple check you can do at home.
watch in the mirror, undress from waist down, contract your PFM’s (imagine you are stopping passing gas or you are trying to pull a little bean up through your anus)…you should see some upwards lifting of the scrotum
Lying on your back, knees open to the sides
Insert 2 fingers inside your vagina up to mid knuckle
Separate your two fingers by opening them out to the side
Engage your PFM’s (stopping the flow of urine, drawing up a tampon)
Ideally, you want to be able to push your fingers towards each other and feel an upwards (towards your head) pull
The home tests are useful but they don’t give you all the information you need. Your PFM’s may appear strong, but if they are too tight they will give a ‘false’ strong contraction. It is difficult for someone to know if their PFM’s are too tight because this isn’t their field of study. And, as stated in previous posts, doing Kegel exercises for muscles that are too tight is the incorrect form of training. So, if you are unsure, please seek out the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Once you feel confident that you are contracting and releasing your PFM’s well, we need to add in the other components of your ‘core’.
2. Add breathing. Inhale and as you exhale and your lower belly pulls inwards, pull up and in with your PFM’s. This helps increase the activity of your transverse abdominis which is part of your core and allows your diaphragm to fully lift and lower which is also part of your core.
Once you can confidently feel your PFM’s working in sync with your breathing and the activation of your transverse abdominis, we need to add in movement
3. Add in movement. Try a squat, for example. Inhale as you lower into your squat, exhale, lower belly pulls inwards and you pull up and in with your PFM’s as you blow your air out.
If you have the hang of this and are doing it well, you can add in all sorts of great exercises. But, doing what you think is the ‘best exercise’ without intentionally working with your PFM’s, your transverse abdominis and your diaphragm will not result in long term change. Doing a plank or a wood chop exercise are all great for our bigger, more external abdominal muscles….but doing a plank or a wood chop exercise with intentionally adding in your most important ‘core’ muscles makes it an even better exercise for both our outer and inner abdominal muscles!
For more videos on pelvic floor muscle exercises and information, check out my youtube channel at: