Written by SMH Outpatient Rehab Pelvic Floor Therapist Shayna Shefrin
These days, getting to the gym can be a real challenge — whether it’s because the kids are home all. the. time., or because you don’t feel safe exercising in that environment. The good news is that you don’t need a gym to stay (or get) fit.
Below are two simple exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your core, pelvic floor and the surrounding muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are very important: They help control the bladder and bowels. And, as with any other muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
The following exercises can be done with items around the house, no gym equipment needed. They can be modified as needed. They should not cause any pain, so if you feel pain when doing them, stop immediately and contact your physician.
The main muscle used in breathing, the diaphragm, works directly with the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. So, by activating your diaphragm, you will strengthen both muscle groups.
This first DIY, at-home exercise starts by focusing on your breathing. You will need to have a heavy book or weight handy.
1. Lie on your back; knees bent.
2. Place the book/weight on top of your belly. Breathe as slowly as possible; the longer the breath, the longer the contraction.
3. As you breathe in, your belly will fill and lift, raising the book/weight up toward the ceiling. As you exhale, your belly will come down and the book/weight will lower toward the floor. (This is called diaphragmatic breathing.)
4. Exhale through your mouth, like you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake. This engages your abdominal muscles. Make sure the book is still going up as you inhale, and down as you exhale.
Repeat: 10 times.
For this exercise, you will be lying on your back again, but along with the pelvic floor muscles, you will be working your inner thigh and buttock muscles. You will need a pillow.
1. Lie on your back; knees bent. Place the pillow between your thighs.
2. Squeeze the pillow with your thighs as you also squeeze your buttocks; lift your buttocks up off the floor a few inches.
3. Hold the raise for 5 seconds; then gently lower down.
Repeat: 10 times.
Aim to do these exercises 5 days each week. Your core and pelvic floor will thank you.
Remember, when it comes to exercise, anything is better than nothing — exercising for a few minutes is better than not at all.
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With a doctorate in Physical Therapy, SMH Outpatient Therapist Shayna Shefrin specializes in treating patients who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction at SMH’s Rehabilitation PAvilion.