Pelvic Floor Integrity

Pelvic Floor Integrity

November 1, 2023

By Annette Lang

So, you’re walking down the street, still 15 minutes from home, and you have to go to the bathroom… but there’s none in sight. What do you do? You hold it in, right?

Or maybe you know a female who has had several kids, and she admits to you that she loses a few drops of urine when she sneezes or coughs. 

Let’s start with these examples to do a brief dive into what the pelvic floor is, how to find it, and what we can do to improve integrity.

woman doing glute bridges

The pelvic floor has traditionally been described as the sphincter muscles around the genitals and anus.  It is, however, so much more than that!

There are muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia all around your lower back, sacrum, pelvis, and hip complex that contribute to pelvic floor integrity and overall proper function.

Reduced integrity of the pelvic floor can lead to incontinence, such as losing urine involuntarily – and not just urine!  Major factors include:

  • Vaginal delivery or pushing for a long time before a C-section
  • Age
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medications
  • Sitting too much
  • Brain function

These can all contribute to even more serious medical conditions. Let’s look at some basic things we can do now.

woman holding yoga pose

Finding Your Pelvic Floor and the Basic Kegel

  •  A common cue to “find” your pelvic floor is “pretend you are peeing, and then stop.” That action of stopping the flow of urine is engaging/contracting the pelvic floor one time. It is just as vital to be able to fully relax the pelvic floor!
  • You can start by doing 15 of these (contract/relax), 1x per day, 3x per week.  Other tips include doing these exercises while brushing your teeth – or a few of them each time the subway stops.  You can download apps to even remind you!

The Elevator Exercise

  • In my professional opinion, the Elevator Exercise is the best core exercise as we integrate pelvic floor engagement with basic diaphragmatic breathing.
  • How to do it:
    • Breathe in through your nose. You should feel and see your belly expanding slightly.
    • As you start exhaling through your mouth, engage your pelvic floor, and keep tightening, pretending that you are pulling up a tiny elevator inside of you as you exhale one time.  As you do this, you should feel your core engaging. Only exhale as long as you can without straining. How high can your elevator go?
    • As you inhale again, release the elevator all the way down, totally relaxing the pelvic floor.
    • Repeat 10 times. You can do these as a “set” a few times each week, or you can incorporate pelvic floor training into your normal breathing. For instance, every time you exhale while doing your deadlift, start by engaging your pelvic floor! 

Annette Lang is a private trainer in NYC. She has a Masters in Health Education and teaches workshops for personal trainers. 

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