Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor – Daily Exercises

Article by Lucas Rockwood


If you’re suffering with a weak pelvic floor, incontinence, prolapse, or poor ejaculatory control, you need to strengthen a group of muscles in your pelvic area called the levator ani. These muscles are commonly damaged during childbirth, but with age and atrophy, problems can arise in both men and women, particularly those in the second half of life.

Obviously, you can’t lift weights with your pelvic floor the way you might with your biceps, but by increasing awareness and coordination, your levator ani muscles begin to fire and engage naturally when you get up and down, use the toilet, and move around in your daily life. Through this simple process, your pelvic floor muscles can restore their strength and tone.

In this article we’ll show you how to become more aware of your pelvic floor muscles and share some exercises you can do at home to strengthen, coordinate, and bring awareness back to this area of your body.


Anatomy of the Pelvic Floor


Female pelvic floor anatomy

There’s a group of muscles at the base of your pelvis called levator ani, which includes three primary muscles that make up your pelvic floor – the puborectalis, pubococcygeal, and iliococcygeal muscles. These key muscles at the base of your pelvis control your urine, bowel and ejaculation, and in women they also support the uterus. They also affect your posture.

These muscles can become weak and cause problems. The most common causes are childbirth where they can become strained or torn, age where they can become atrophied, and also through a lack of use – if you’re sitting down all day, it can lead to weakened pelvic floor muscles.

A key thing to remember is that your pelvic floor diaphragm and your breathing diaphragm have a paradoxical relationship – when you exhale you can squeeze your pelvic floor muscles much easier, when you inhale it’s much harder to squeeze those muscles. In our exercises we’ll work at the bottom of the exhale, where your breathing diaphragm is relaxed and there’s more space to squeeze.


How to Feel Your Pelvic Floor

Since most of us have never consciously engaged or coordinated the muscles of our pelvic floor, an important first step is to spend a few minutes exploring this region through a series of engage-relax exercises targeting three areas: front, back, and middle.

Front Awareness

  • Sit in a chair and close your eyes
  • Inhale deeply 1-2-3-4, now exhale 4-3-2-1
  • At the bottom of the exhale, imagine you are urinating, and then stop the flow of urine and hold

Back Awareness

  • Inhale deeply 1-2-3-4, now exhale 4-3-2-1
  • At the bottom of the exhale, squeeze your anus tightly

Middle Awareness

  • Inhale deeply 1-2-3-4, now exhale 4-3-2-1
  • Men, at the bottom of the exhale, imagine you were lifting your testicles up into your body
  • Women, at the bottom of the exhale, contract your vagina

All Three Together

  • Inhale deeply 1-2-3-4, now exhale 4-3-2-1
  • At the bottom of the exhale, squeeze your front, back, and middle areas at the same time

NOTE: when attempting to contract your pelvic floor muscles, it’s common to struggle to hold the contraction. The muscle might contact-relax-contract, meaning you cannot hold it—that’s normal. It will improve with time.

Download PDF pose chart


Pelvic Floor Exercises

Seated Practice

  • Sit in a chair with a rolled-up towel between your legs, touching your genitals and the base of your pelvis
  • Inhale deeply, and then exhale completely—and hold
  • Engage all your pelvic floor muscles (front, back and middle), lift and squeeze for 1-2-3-4-5
  • Release, relax and breathe normally
  • Repeat for two more rounds
  • You can practice this exercise without a towel, but using one helps to create greater awareness in this area.

Supine Practice

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and a block between your knees
  • Inhale deeply, and then exhale completely—and hold
  • Engage all your pelvic floor muscles (front, back and middle), lift and squeeze for 1-2-3-4-5
  • Release, relax and breathe normally
  • Repeat for two more rounds

Best Practices

Aim to do up to three rounds of each exercise, no more than three times a day. Don’t overdo it with these practices, otherwise you may trigger short-term constipation and anxiety.

If you have major pelvic floor dysfunction, please check with a health care provider before practicing any self-care routine.


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