Kegel Exercises for a Weak Pelvic Floor
Having a weak pelvic floor can lead to a number of health issues (not to mention the pain and discomfort). But don’t worry, there are ways to strengthen this area of your body! In this article, we’ll cover the basics about the pelvic floor, how it can become weak and what this leads to, and how you can build pelvic floor muscle strength to manage the pain and discomfort.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue located at the bottom of your torso. More specifically, it’s at the base of your pelvis, and wraps around the pelvic bone from the pubic bone to the tail-bone (also known as the coccyx).
Your pelvis houses organs like the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina. With the pelvic floor, you can think of it as the foundation of your lower torso since it provides support to these organs.
Why is Your Pelvic Floor Important?
Your pelvic floor is important because it not only provides structural support for your pelvic organs, but it also stabilizes your spine by working with your abdominals, back muscles, and diaphragm.
In addition, a strong pelvic floor is necessary for bladder and bowel control and pregnancy and delivery.
What Causes a Weak Pelvic Floor?
Advancing age is a huge factor that contributes to a weak pelvic floor. If you’ve ever heard of collagen, you might know it as the protein that keeps your skin firm. However, it’s also essential for preserving your pelvic floor. But as you age, your body naturally slows its collagen production, which means your pelvic floor becomes weaker (just another reason to hate getting older).
Other factors that may lead to a weak pelvic floor include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Pelvic injuries
- Chronic coughing
- Pelvic surgeries
- Overused pelvic muscles
While there are numerous things that can cause your pelvic floor to weaken, there are also ways to strengthen your pelvic floor, including certain exercises and the use of kegel weights (but we’ll get into that later).
Why Do I Pee When I Sneeze?
Having a weak pelvic floor can result in stress urinary incontinence (SUI) where there is loss of urine with increased pressure exerted onto the bladder. Pressure can result from coughing, sneezing, jumping, running, or laughing. Essentially, the muscles of the pelvic floor are not able to contract around the urethra — the tube through which your urine passes as it leaves your body — with enough strength to counteract the pressure exerted onto the bladder, and the result is the loss of urine.
The amount of urine loss can depend on how full the bladder is and the type of activity that is being performed. Weak pelvic floor muscles may also contribute to prolapse of organs such as your bladder and uterus.
Symptoms of Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
A weak pelvic floor can bring a lot of pain and discomfort to your body. To help you monitor your body’s condition, here are some weak pelvic floor muscles symptoms to look out for:
- Peeing when laughing (as previously mentioned)
- Peeing when you sneeze (as previously mentioned)
- Incomplete bowel movement
- Pain during sex
- Uncomfortable feeling of pressure in vagina
- Bulge emerging from vagina
- Pain in the lower back or tailbone
How Do I Strengthen My Pelvic Floor?
Typical treatment for a weak pelvic floor is performing contractions to strengthen the muscles. Research shows that by performing kegel pelvic floor exercises and improving the strength of the muscles, you can experience decreased episodes of urinary incontinence.
What is a Kegel Exercise?
A kegel exercise involves you clenching and releasing your pelvic floor muscles to make them stronger. You can do this type of exercise sitting or lying down and even use vaginal weights as supplements to help you get the most out of the exercise. Just make sure that your bladder is empty beforehand!
So, what exactly are vaginal weights and when should you use them?
What Are Vaginal Weights?
Vaginal weights (sometimes referred to as vaginal cones) are used to help facilitate muscle contractions. They provide proprioceptive feedback to the pelvic floor muscles during contractions by providing some resistance. Proprioceptive feedback helps you be able to sense or feel your pelvic floor muscles. Sensing these muscles is important, so you should use vaginal weights if you have a difficult time performing your kegel pelvic floor exercises and using the correct muscles.
In addition, vaginal weights may also strengthen your muscles more efficiently in 10-15 minutes than in performing up to 100 kegel contractions per day!
How to Do Kegel Ball Exercises
If you decide to try out kegel weights (like the ones from Joy ON), you can use them in your kegel ball exercises. The Joy ON kegel weight system has 7 weights ranging from 0.9 oz to 5.3 oz (25g to 150g) that allows you to progress as a weight becomes easier. Using the Joy ON kegel weights may be beneficial if you’ve been performing pelvic floor muscle contractions and had minimal improvement in your urinary incontinence symptoms.
Joy ON kegel weights may also be beneficial if you find that you’re having difficulty performing a contraction. Simply insert the weight while lying down, then gently pull on the tail of the weight and try to contract the muscles you feel around the weight to keep the weight inside your vagina.
As you contract your pelvic floor muscles, you should feel the weight move more deeply into the vagina. If it moves out of the vagina, then you’re using your abdominal muscles and need to concentrate on using your pelvic floor muscles only.
Remember to relax your pelvic floor muscles after working them out to prevent them from becoming overly tired or painful. If you experience pain, stop using the weights and contact your physician or pelvic health physical therapist. Otherwise, follow the instructions that come with the weights to progress your program.
What Are the Benefits of Kegel Exercises?
Depending on the symptoms you experience with having a weak pelvic floor, the results and benefits can vary for each person. But as we mentioned before, kegel exercises are overall great for strengthening your pelvic floor and improving muscle control and urinary continence. And best of all, kegel exercises can help give you confidence when you’re with your partner!
If you have questions, we are here to help. Contact us at email@example.com.
Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee
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