Keeping your pelvic floor strong and relaxed is essential for overall well-being. A powerful, sturdy pelvic floor helps relieve stress, reduces discomfort, and improves athletic performance. Yet many people don’t even know what their pelvic floor is, let alone how to exercise it. In this article, we’ll discuss how to relax your pelvic floor and provide 5 exercises to help you do just that.
Meet Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Your pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles and tissue at the base of your pelvis. They form a hammock-like structure that supports many bodily functions. These include supporting the bladder, rectum, and uterus (in females). Proper bowel functioning, and the ability to control urine and feces flow, depends on having a strong pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor muscles are also instrumental to sexual functioning. The stronger they are, the more control you will have, and the stronger your orgasms will be. The pelvic floor muscles also work together with abdominal and lower back muscles to provide spinal stability, promoting good posture.
When your pelvic floor is weak or stiff, the following problems may result:
- Urinary incontinence, where urine is released when you sneeze, laugh, or exercise
- Excessive urination, even when the bladder is not full
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Prolapse: feeling as if the pelvic region is bulging in the vaginal canal of women
- Dyspareunia: pain that occurs during sexual activity
- Chronic constipation
Pelvic Floor Training – Mayo Clinic
How to Relax Pelvic Floor Muscles
It is essential to your pelvic floor’s health and function that you learn how to relax your pelvic floor. Here are a couple of methods that can assist you in momentarily relieving tension:
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: Take long, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Imagine your pelvic floor expanding and then gradually releasing tension with each in-out breath.
- Pelvic Floor Drops: While seated or lying down, intentionally release any tension that may be present in the muscles that make up your pelvic floor. Imagine them unwinding and falling further and further.
Locating Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic muscles are like a hammock that runs from the pubic bone to the hip bone. These muscles act as a protection for the uterus, the bowels, and the bladder in women and the bladder and bowels in men.
The best way to identify your pelvic floor muscles is to contract in order to stop your urine flow when taking a pee. Those muscles you feel tightening are the ones we will be working in the five exercises to come. However, don’t hold your urine very often because this can contribute to a urinary tract infection.
To fully benefit from the pelvic floor exercises to follow, you need to be able to contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, we need to think once again about what happens when you are urinating. When you are peeing, your pelvic floor muscles are totally relaxed. Your belly will be pushing slightly out and down.
5 Pelvic Floor Relaxation Exercises
Here are five equipment-free pelvic floor relaxation exercises that you can do right in the privacy of your home:
1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Awareness
- Begin by locating your pelvic floor muscles. You can identify them by trying to stop the flow of urine during urination (though it’s important not to do this often, as it can contribute to urinary tract issues).
- Once you’ve identified the muscles, practice contracting and relaxing them consciously.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for a few seconds.
- Consciously release and relax them fully.
- Repeat this contraction and relaxation cycle several times, focusing on the sensation of relaxation.
2. Child’s Pose Stretch
- Start in a kneeling position with your big toes touching and knees spread apart.
- Sit back onto your heels and stretch your arms forward on the floor.
- Rest your forehead on the ground and relax your pelvic floor as you breathe deeply.
- Hold this gentle stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, maintaining relaxation in your pelvic area.
3. Deep Squat Stretch
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Slowly lower your body into a deep squat position.
- Place your elbows inside your knees and gently press them outward, opening your hips.
- Breathe deeply and focus on relaxing your pelvic floor while in this stretch.
- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly stand up.
4. Open the Doors
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your arms on the floor by your sides.
- With your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your legs so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor.
- Now move your thighs apart to open up your legs.
- Hold for a two-count, drawing in a deep breath.
- Bring your legs back together as you breathe out.
- Lie on your side with your legs stacked, one on top of the other, knees bent.
- Lift your top knee to open up your legs while keeping your feet together.
- Hold this open position for a two-count.
- Return to the start position.
We recommend working your pelvic floor muscles 2–3 times per week. Here’s an ideal set and rep scheme to follow:
- Child’s Pose Stretch: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Deep Squat Stretch: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Open the Doors: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Clamshell: 2 sets of 15 reps
Including your pelvic floor in your workout routine is essential for a whole host of reasons. Learning how to relax your pelvic floor will help reduce stress, ease discomfort, improve your sex life, and help ward off elimination problems.
Make use of our five pelvic floor relaxation exercises to gain control over this vital part of your body. By doing so, you’ll be taking control of your pelvic health and opening the way to a more balanced and comfortable future.