The pelvic floor is made up of a series of muscles that act as a “sling” and support different organs in the body. Keeping those muscles strong is important for a host of reasons – they help to prevent prolapse, reduce or prevent the symptoms of incontinence, and can even lead to more satisfying sex. But how do you strengthen those muscles? And how do you know what you are doing is effective for the long run?
We recommend starting your pelvic floor exercise search with a trained physical therapist (PT) specializing in women’s health. Your PT will educate you on what muscles connect to the pelvic floor (there are 45!) and how to work all of them in order to keep things working properly. Many people know of kegels but are unaware of the variety-- and combination-- of workouts that can benefit the pelvic floor. Because the pelvic floor connects to so many other muscles in the body, a workout plan that incorporates strengthening all of these muscles will ensure that you are not placing too big of a strain on any one muscle group.
In addition to specific movements or workouts, your PT may also incorporate biofeedback into your sessions. Biofeedback is a system that reports how well you are performing kegel contractions and can be an indicator of how strong your pelvic muscles are.
Biofeedback is a great way to actually see how you’re performing in the moment. Typically, a probe is inserted into the vagina, and sensors on the probe relay information back to a screen or meter. When you contract your pelvic floor muscles, a reading appears on the screen that tells you how tightly you are squeezing, and for how long.
Talk to your doctor about biofeedback to see if it might be an option for you.