Pelvic floor dysfunction is more common than you might think. It can affect all genders and age groups and develop due to several factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, aging, and a sedentary lifestyle. The symptoms of underactive pelvic floor can include difficulty with bowel movements, urinary incontinence, pain during sex, and lower back pain, among others.
If you have an underactive pelvic floor, one of the best ways to improve your pelvic floor health is through regular pelvic floor exercises. These exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, improve your muscle tone, and support your pelvic organs. Here are some of the most effective pelvic floor exercises for an underactive pelvic floor:
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Pelvic floor physical therapy involves working with a trained physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor health. During your therapy sessions, your therapist will guide you through a series of exercises tailored to your unique needs and goals. You may also receive biofeedback to help you better understand and control your pelvic floor muscles.
One of the most effective ways to improve an underactive pelvic floor is through pelvic floor strengthening exercises. These exercises typically involve contracting your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds at a time, then relaxing them. One popular exercise is called the Kegel exercise, which involves contracting your pelvic floor muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine.
Pelvic floor retraining involves coordinating and controlling your pelvic floor muscles more effectively. This can be especially helpful if you have urinary or faecal incontinence trouble. Your physical therapist can guide you through exercises that help you learn to control the timing and strength of your pelvic floor muscle contractions.
Other pelvic floor exercises that may be helpful for an underactive pelvic floor include squats, lunges, and bridges. These exercises help strengthen the muscles in your legs, buttocks, and core, providing additional support to your pelvic floor muscles.
Remember that consistency is key when it comes to pelvic floor exercises. Aim to do your exercises daily, even if you can only manage a few repetitions first. Over time, you’ll be able to build up your strength and endurance, and enjoy better pelvic floor health as a result.
Regarding pelvic floor health, it’s not just about strengthening the muscles. In fact, relaxation techniques can be just as important in improving an underactive pelvic floor. In this section, we will explore the importance of pelvic floor relaxation and the techniques that can help improve pelvic floor function.
Just as we need strong muscles to support our pelvic organs and maintain bladder and bowel control, we also need to be able to relax those muscles when necessary.
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An overactive pelvic floor can be just as problematic as an underactive one, causing issues like pelvic pain, constipation, and difficulty with urination or sexual activity. Learning how to relax the pelvic floor muscles can improve our overall pelvic floor health and function.
One of the first steps in learning how to relax the pelvic floor muscles is to become more aware of them. Try doing pelvic floor coordination exercises, such as kegels or reverse kegels, to understand better the muscles involved.
Once you have a feel for the muscles, you can start to work on relaxing them. Try sitting or lying down in a comfortable position and consciously relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You can also try visualization techniques like imagining a balloon inflating and deflating within the pelvic area.
Some several techniques and exercises can help improve pelvic floor relaxation, depending on the specific issues you are experiencing. For example, if you are dealing with urinary incontinence, you may benefit from pelvic floor drops or quick flicks to relax the muscles.
If you are experiencing pelvic pain, deep breathing exercises or guided meditations can help relax the mind and body and relieve tension in the pelvic area. And if you are struggling with sexual dysfunction, such as vulvodynia or vaginismus, pelvic floor relaxation exercises can help reduce pain and discomfort during intercourse.
Whatever techniques and exercises you choose, remember that improving pelvic floor relaxation takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to seek out the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist or other healthcare professional if you need it.
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When the pelvic floor muscles weaken, it can result in a range of pelvic floor disorders. These conditions can cause discomfort, pain, and embarrassment for the individuals experiencing them, but there are ways to manage them effectively. Let’s explore some of the most common pelvic floor disorders related to an underactive pelvic floor and the exercises that can help alleviate symptoms.
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more pelvic organs, such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum, slip or bulge into the vaginal canal. This condition affects up to 50% of women over the age of 50 and can be caused by many factors, including an underactive pelvic floor. Pelvic floor relaxation exercises, like kegels, can help improve pelvic floor muscle strength and alleviate symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.
Urinary incontinence, the involuntary leakage of urine, affects millions of people worldwide and can significantly impact quality of life. An underactive pelvic floor can contribute to urinary incontinence by decreasing the muscle’s ability to contract and close the urethra. Pelvic floor strengthening exercises, such as kegels, can help improve muscle strength and control, reducing the likelihood of leaks.
Constipation occurs when stool moves too slowly through the digestive system, causing it to become hard and difficult to pass. An underactive pelvic floor can contribute to constipation, as the muscles are not able to relax enough to allow for proper bowel movements. Pelvic floor relaxation exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing and gentle stretching, can help alleviate the symptoms of constipation.
Pelvic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including an underactive pelvic floor. Pelvic floor relaxation exercises, such as gentle stretching and trigger point release, can help alleviate tissue tension and reduce pain levels.
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In some cases, pelvic floor relaxation therapy may be necessary to address chronic pain.
Sexual dysfunction can have many causes, including an underactive pelvic floor. Pelvic floor relaxation exercises, such as those used for pelvic pain, can help alleviate tension and improve sexual function. For women, pelvic floor relaxation exercises may also be useful for vaginismus and dyspareunia. For men, pelvic floor relaxation exercises may help with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
For those who have undergone pelvic organ prolapse surgery, pelvic floor relaxation exercises can effectively aid in recovery and reduce symptoms. These exercises can help improve muscle strength and control, reducing the likelihood of future prolapse. Always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any post-surgery exercise routine.
You’re not alone if you have questions about an underactive pelvic floor. Here are some frequently asked questions and expert answers to help increase your understanding:
Common symptoms include urinary or fecal incontinence, difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel, frequent urination, and pain during intercourse. You may also experience pelvic pain, lower back pain, or discomfort in your hips or thighs.
An underactive pelvic floor can be caused by a range of factors, including aging, pregnancy and childbirth, surgery, obesity, prolonged sitting, or a sedentary lifestyle. Some medical conditions, such as neurological disorders or hormonal changes, can also contribute to a weak pelvic floor.
Yes! Treatment options include pelvic floor exercises, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques. There are also several devices available to aid pelvic floor rehabilitation. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of action for your individual needs.
Results vary depending on the severity of the underactive pelvic floor, your individual health, and the frequency and consistency of your exercises. However, many people begin to see improvement within a few weeks of starting pelvic floor exercises.