9 Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor, From Local Fitness Pros – Philadelphia magazine

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Simple exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere to give your pelvic floor some much-needed TLC.
Nine exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, including glute bridges and cat pose. / Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.
You use your pelvic floor everyday (even though you might not know it), so it’s important to show it some love like you do your other muscles. Below are nine exercises — recommended by Philly fitness pros who specialize in pelvic-floor training — that you can do from the comfort of your home in order to strengthen that under-looked, but super important part of your body.
Owner of Y2B Fit
Crystal Widmann, owner of Y2B Fit. / Photograph by Kinette Kielinski
Diaphragmatic breathing
While sitting, standing or lying down, inhale through the nose to the count of six while feeling your belly push outward. Your chest should remain still. Exhale through pursed lips to the same count while feeling your belly fall downward to resting position. Again, your chest shouldn’t move. Repeat three sets of 10 breaths.
Bent-knee alternating leg lifts
Start on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale with diaphragmatic breathing, then exhale as you lift one leg off the floor to a 90-degree angle, with your knee above your hip. Hold the leg lift and contraction for the full length of the exhale. Inhale as you return to the starting position, then repeat with the other leg. Repeat two sets of 10 reps.
Heel slides
Start on your back with knees bent, feet flexed (heels down and toes up), and heels close to your buttocks. Inhale with diaphragmatic breathing, then exhale as you extend one leg straight, pressing through the heel. Hold the extension and contraction for the full length of the exhale. Inhale as you return to the starting position, then repeat with the other leg. Repeat two sets of 10 reps.
Owner of EveryBody Movement & Wellness
Julia Naftulin, Owner of EveryBody Movement & Wellness. / Photograph by Mark Bolender
Bridge lifts
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart, with a ball, pillow or yoga block between your knees. Exhale as you push through the heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips and pelvis off the ground until you’re in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Stay here for five full breaths. Inhale and relax your hips back down to the floor, keeping your core and glutes engaged.
Cat pose
Come onto all fours with shoulders over the wrists, hips over the knees, and head in a neutral position. Place a prop between the knees to squeeze. Inhale, then tuck the tailbone under and exhale as you curl the spine, activating the pelvic floor, glutes, inner thighs and low belly. Release the crown of your head to the floor. Inhale as you return to starting position using your core and pelvic-floor muscles.
Deep squat
Stand with your legs wide. Inhale, then exhale as you bend your knees to about 90 degrees, or in as deep a squat as you can while keeping your pelvis neutral. Stay here for five breaths. Straighten your legs out of the squat as you inhale, fully relaxing your pelvic-floor muscles. Repeat five to 10 reps.
Owner of Teranga Yoga
Joanna Da-Sylva, owner of Teranga Yoga. / Photograph by Jenn Rosen
Block-assisted mountain pose
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, arms by your sides, a block between your thighs. Drop the tailbone (rather than tucking it under). As you inhale, lift your arms and chest toward the ceiling as you squeeze the block between your thighs. Avoid tightening or clenching your joints. Exhale to release while still keeping the block between your thighs.
Warrior II
From a standing position, step one foot back about three to four feet—making sure your heels are still aligned—and rotate your back foot 90 degrees so your toes are facing away from your other foot. Bend the front knee, ensuring that the knee is right over the ankle, and stretch your arms out. As you inhale, lengthen the spine and soften the shoulders. As you exhale, energetically hug your feet together, which will engage the pelvic-floor muscles and lift them upward.
Bent-knee savasana with block
Lying on the floor, bend your legs with feet placed hip-distance apart, a block between your thighs, your arms by your sides or on your belly. As you inhale, lengthen your spine through the crown of your head. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone underneath and press the lower back into the floor.
Published as “Daily Practice” in the Be Well Philly 2022 print issue.
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