The Muscles You Didn’t Know You Had – Until They No Longer Work
You might not think about your pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) when you’re working out, but perhaps you should. For both men and women, a strong pelvic floor reduces the risk of incontinence, improves core strength and stability, and can even increase sexual satisfaction.
Located at the base of your core cylinder, your PFMs act like a hammock or sling that holds your internal organs, like the bladder or uterus, in place. If your PFMs are weak, those organs are unsupported. Picture a cardboard box with a soggy bottom: with no support, the contents are at risk of dropping out.
That’s why you need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles!
Here’s a cool PFM fact: Activating your PFMs facilitates deep abdominal muscle contraction. Translation: your lower belly automatically contracts inward. Many Pilates practitioners already know this, but strong PFMs can be very helpful with other athletic pursuits like power lifting, running and yoga. The enhanced core strength and stability you’ll develop with a strong pelvic floor can also help relieve or prevent lower back pain.
Also called Kegels, pelvic floor exercises can even give you stronger orgasms! Strengthening these muscles, which contract during orgasms for both men and women, can make those contractions even stronger. For men, toning up the PFMs can even treat premature ejaculation.
How To Do Them
To activate your pelvic floor muscles, sit cross-legged and upright. Think of your pelvic floor muscles as a clock face. Your pubic bone is at 12 o’clock, tailbone at 6 and your sit bones at 3 and 9. On an exhale, draw the 12 and 6 together, like elevator doors sliding shut. Do the same with the 3 and 9 o’clock points. Then lift them up inside you like an elevator rising. Hold them in for an inhale and then release. Repeat this several times. Once you get used to the exercise, practice lifting the elevator higher and/or holding longer before fully releasing.
The great thing about PFM exercises is that you can do them anywhere – in your car, at the office, even while watching a movie. So next time you’re in line at the grocery store waiting to pay, forget the celebrity magazines and tone up that pelvic floor!