Pelvic floor problems don’t need to stop you from exercising. There are many types of exercise that are safe to do even if your pelvic floor is weak. Here are 10 pelvic-floor friendly exercises to help you spring into springtime.
Please note; none of these exercises will specifically strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, only an individually designed pelvic floor muscle training program can achieve this.
Going for a power walk is a fabulous way to get some cardio exercise, and also some fresh air! Grab a friend, take the dog and start pounding the pavement. Walking up and down hills or adding some short spurts of fast walking can really get your blood pumping!
2. Bike Riding
Bike riding is the perfect exercise for anyone with pelvic floor weakness. You can really work up a sweat on the bike, whilst still being low impact on your pelvic floor. The bike is also great because you can ride outdoors getting fresh air and some vitamin D or use an exercise bike or wind trainer indoors, perfect for those who can’t get out, eg. mums with young children, or in bad weather.
Swimming is an incredibly low impact exercise, hence very safe for the pelvic floor, and also a great cardio workout! If you aren’t a confident swimmer, walking laps in the pool is a great option.
4. Modified Weight Training Program
Heavy weights aren’t recommended if you have pelvic floor weakness, but this doesn’t mean you have to avoid weight training all together. To make weight training safer for the pelvic floor, you can:
- Lighten your weights so that you aren’t straining or bearing down
- Avoid holding your breath when exerting effort
- Choose sitting options over standing (eg. seated weight machines or sitting on a fit ball using hand weights)
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles before each exercise, and relax them after each repetition
5. Gentle Core Exercises
Did you know that some abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups, crunches, or double leg lowering can do more harm than good? Advanced abdominal exercises can cause ‘bearing down’ and weaken your pelvic floor. However, there are safe core strength exercise options, such as:
- Modified plank (balancing on your knees)
- Wall push ups
- Resting on all fours, straighten one arm and the alternate leg
- Balance work standing on a Bosu
- Leg lift or leg straightening while sitting on a fitball
6. Modified Squats
Squats are one of the best lower body exercises – perfect for strengthening and toning your buttocks, thighs and calves. Wide-legged, deep squats aren’t a good idea for your pelvic floor, however, if you keep your feet hip width apart and don’t let your bottom go lower than your knees, you will still feel the burn from this fabulous exercise. Doing these squats on the wall with a fitball behind your back is also a good option.
7. Cross Trainer
The cross trainer, aka elliptical machine, is a low impact cardio option available at most gyms. It is recommended to keep the resistance level low to be safer for your pelvic floor.
8. Clinical Pilates
Clinical Pilates is excellent for strengthening and toning your muscles, improving core strength, improving posture, and increasing flexibility. Doing this under the supervision of a physiotherapist is generally safer and can be tailored to your specific goals. It is always recommended you inform your instructor that you have a weak pelvic floor, so they can modify your program appropriately.
Many Yoga classes are pelvic floor friendly, however it is a good idea to enquire at your local yoga studio and ask which classes would be best suited to your needs. Usually these are the ‘beginner’ classes or ‘gentle’ classes. Similar to Pilates, always inform your instructor that you have pelvic floor muscle weakness, so they can advise you which exercises will need modifications.
10. Aqua Aerobics
Many local pools offer aqua aerobics classes, which are a great low impact exercise option that are very safe and often lots of fun too!
At Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy, we encourage all women and men to stay fit and healthy, and we work with you to achieve your exercise goals. If you need advice or guidance about exercise, book in to see one of our expert physios, who can create a tailored general exercise program specifically for you.