Whether you are a parent, a working individual with long hours, someone who travels often, or all of the above, it may be challenging to add more exercises to your routine. The last thing you may want to do is add something else to your to do list. *This can be especially true for new moms, who may benefit greatly from pelvic floor exercises however are dealing with a lot of changes in your life and day to day routine.* Luckily, there are many ways that you can incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your everyday life without requiring a significant amount of time. A little can go a long way!
Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most important tools to help with your pelvic floor The diaphragm acts opposite to the pelvic floor, so when you breathe through that muscle and it contracts, the pelvic floor will want to relax. This is especially helpful for those with a “hypertonic pelvic floor” or those who have a lot of tightness in those areas. If you experience issues such as constipation, pain with sex, erectile dysfunction, bloating, or pelvic pain, this would be a great exercise for you to start with. Breathing will also help you be able to strengthen your pelvic floor better down the road.
How to do diaphragmatic breathing:
Lay down with one hand on your chest and one on your stomach, when you breathe in, allow air to fill into your belly and ribcage, raising up the bottom hand without letting the top hand move. Then as you breathe out, let the air out of the belly allowing the stomach and bottom hand to go back down. All while trying to focus on relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Performing this laying down is the easiest place to start since you are most relaxed. If you try this exercises for 3-5 minutes once or twice a day, it can make a big difference! You can also perform this if you start noticing that you are tensing through your pelvic floor (possibly in times of stress).
Pelvic floor strengthening:
Contracting your pelvic floor (aka a kegel) is a great way to strengthen the pelvic floor, and luckily- it can be easy to throw in throughout the day and requires no equipment. Not everyone needs to strengthen the pelvic floor, but if you experience issues with leaking, feeling of instability or core weakness, experience heaviness, are preparing to get pregnant/ are in early stages of pregnancy, this might be a good exercise for you!
How to do a kegel:
When you breathe in, allow air to fill into the belly, letting everything relax, then as you breathe out, contract the pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping the flow of urine- thinking of pulling up and in or sipping through a straw with these muscles. Hold for 5 seconds, and then relax. Best way to start performing these is laying down when you are feeling most relaxed and gravity is not affecting you. You can perform in sets of 10, 2x throughout the day. When feeling stronger, work on holding the contracting for up to 10 seconds as well as performing 10 quick contractions.
Not only can you perform diaphragmatic breathing and pelvic floor contractions laying down, but you can easily perform them in many other ways. So even if taking 5-10 extra minutes of your day to do these exercises seems overwhelming, no worries! We are all about working smarter, not harder.
You can perform both diaphragmatic breathing as well as kegels in sitting (think while sitting at work, driving your car) and standing (standing in line at the grocery store, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth). Performing these exercises in different positions is not only doable, but it is recommended!
You can also add these exercises into other exercises that you may be doing.
Performing diaphragmatic breathing while stretching or doing yoga.
With bridges and hip thrusts: breathe in first, then breathe out and contract as you lift up hips
With squats and lunges: Breathing in and relaxing pelvic floor as you go down, breathing out as you come up
With jumping: breathing in first, then breathe out and contract as you jump, relax when you come back down
With shoulder press: breathe out and contract when press up, breathe in and relax as you come down
Setting reminders on your phone or putting up post it notes on your laptop are great ways to help remind you to perform these exercises when the day gets ahead of you! It is all about figuring out a routine that works for you. Just because you may not have the time to set aside and really focus on these exercises, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress.
It is always recommended to see a pelvic floor PT to figure out what are the best exercises for YOU.