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5 Easy Floor Moves That Can Help Incontinence By Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor

Let’s get real: Peeing (even just a little bit) in your pants can happen to the best of us. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s also never super fun. If this kind of leaking’s become an issue in your life, there may be something you can do about it: strengthen your pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor is “a group of skeletal muscle at the base of your pelvis that is part of your core and supports your organs, urinary and bowel function, sexual and reproductive function,” says P.volve lead trainer Maeve McEwen.

Doing something like coughing, sneezing, or jumping can put pressure on your pelvic floor, similar to a trampoline getting jumped on, explains Shannon DeVore, MD, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU Langone Fertility Center, and a member of the P.volve clinical advisory board. Those activities “push the urethra forward, and your urine can slip out.” So your pelvic floor is the bulwark against that slippage.

Pregnancy and childbirth can put extra strain on the pelvic floor. So can menopause, because estrogen, which declines during menopause, “helps maintain the elasticity and hydration in the connective tissue around the pelvic floor,” says McEwen.

But it’s not just major life events like these that do a number on the pelvic floor. Pilates teacher and Form workout platform founder Sami Clarke adds that, “just like other muscles we strengthen on a daily basis, your pelvic floor needs that same love.”

“Both an overactive (hypertonic) pelvic floor and a weak (hypotonic) pelvic floor can influence urinary incontinence,” McEwen says. “The muscular system may not be strong enough to handle the stress placed on it—especially during moves like jumping, running, sneezing, or coughing—or the pelvic floor may be too tense, which can put increased pressure on the bladder.”

Probably the most common way to tackle pelvic floor strength is through kegels, which is the practice of squeezing and releasing those muscles. But McEwen says that a well-rounded strengthening regimen can actually encompass a whole lot more, because “the pelvic floor does not work in isolation.” The most effective pelvic floor exercises for incontinence work in tandem with your breath and your core.

“The pelvic floor is part of your core, meaning it works with your diaphragm, abdominals, and deep back muscles to support your trunk and pelvis,” McEwen says. The key to strengthening the pelvic floor to support you functionally, she says, is “finding the proper coordination of your breath with a kegel (which is a pelvic floor contraction) and an abdominal contraction.”

Are you ready to add some pelvic floor strengthening moves to your routine to combat incontinence? First up, read this handy guide to finding and activating your pelvic floor muscles. Then, try out these five pelvic floor exercises for incontinence to see if they can help you get through the day leak-free.

1. Lying down leg squeezes

Clarke says this is one of her favorite moves that you can do every day, and it takes less than three minutes.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your knees slightly apart.
  2. Slowly tighten and pull up the pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can for 10 seconds.
  3. Let the legs relax, rest for three seconds, then repeat.
  4. Do 10 reps, slow and controlled.

2. Bolster-supported tabletop toe touches

Yoga teacher and TikTokker Tiffany Crociani says this move “completely changed” her pelvic floor.

  1. Lie on your back with legs up in tabletop position and your hips supported by a bolster.
  2. With your knees bent, tap down the toe of one foot while keeping your other leg elevated.
  3. Alternate sides for up to one to two minutes.
@tiffanycroww This move completely changed my pelvic floor. Because, same @tiffanycroww #yoga #corework #backpain #yogaforbackpain #pelvicfloor #yogaforpelvicfloor Ib @stepheintz ♬ Rich Flex Carter Walsh Remix – CarterWalsh

The following exercises, courtesy of McEwen, are most effective with an exercise ball like the P.volve p.ball. McEwen says to wear it “all the way up the thighs so that the ball is touching the base of the pelvis floor.” McEwen advises that you should “focus on quality over quantity,” but you can aim for 10 to 12 reps of each.

3. Glute bridges

  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Inhale through your nose, thinking of filling the space around your lower ribcage 360 degrees with air.
  3. As you exhale through pursed lips, squeeze the ball, contract your pelvic floor, engage your abs then press your hips up to a bridge using your glutes.
  4. Return to the start, then repeat.

4. Bear Pose

  1. Begin on all fours with a long spine and your knees directly under your hips. Tuck your toes.
  2. Inhale through your nose, thinking of filling the space around your lower ribcage 360 degrees with air.
  3. As you exhale through pursed lips, squeeze the ball, contract your pelvic floor, engage your abs then press through the floor to hover your knees off the mat.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat.

5. Hip hinges

  1. Begin standing tall with your feet about hips-width distance.
  2. Inhale through your nose as you hinge your hips back two to three inches like you are about to sit in a chair.
  3. As you exhale through pursed lips, squeeze the ball, contract your pelvic floor, engage your abs then press your hips up to a tall standing position by squeezing the glutes.
  4. Repeat.

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