What is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?

When you think of exercise, you might think focusing on muscle groups such as the abs, legs, back and arms. While all those areas are important, we can’t forget to exercise the muscles that we can’t particularly see or feel. We’re talking about the pelvic floor muscles. Have you ever sneezed, coughed or laughed and found yourself peeing a little? You’re not alone! This could be due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Problems with the pelvic floor are common and could happen to anyone. Incontinence, painful sex and lower back pain are some of the challenges that can arise due to a weak pelvic floor. Here’s what you need to know!

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor comprises of muscles and connective tissues that are attached to your pelvis and are vital in supporting your bladder, urethra, intestines and rectum. In women, the pelvic floor also supports the uterus and the vagina. You could think about the pelvic floor as a shelf for your organs, so a strong shelf means a more secure support system for your organs.

How do you find pelvic floor muscles?

A good way to visualize the pelvic floor and its function is to picture these muscles at the bottom of the pelvis. When you have a full bladder and you’re trying to stop urine flow, you’re contracting the pelvic floor.

Another way to find those muscles while standing is to imagine that you need to pass gas but don’t want to let it out. The muscles you’re activating to hold it in, that is those surrounding your rectum and anus, make up part of your pelvic floor.

When engaging the pelvic floor, make sure to use all these muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis. If you only contract the muscles that stop the flow of urine but not the rectal muscles, you’re not getting a full contraction and therefore, the pelvic floor does not get strengthened. Imagine a sensation of hugging your organs from the bottom up.

It’s important to learn how to tighten and relax these muscles for optimal pelvic floor function. As you’re going about your daily routine, check in with yourself to see if you’re contracting these muscles and to what intensity.

Why is it important to maintain a strong pelvic floor?

  • Strengthening your pelvic floor allows you to better support the bladder, bowels and uterus, helping with bladder and bowel control.
  • A strong pelvic floor also protects against uterine prolapse, when the uterus loses support and bulges out of the vagina
  • For women, a strong pelvic floor can help during labor and delivery
  • Strengthening the pelvic floor can lead to better sex for both men and women. Experts say that strengthening these muscles can potentially improve erectile dysfunction issues as well as boost sexual sensation for women.

How do you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles?

Both contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles is key, and not just solely focusing on contraction.

Kegel exercises help with contraction of the muscles.

  • Find the right muscles as mentioned above
  • Imagine you’re sitting on an exercise ball with a marble inside of it. Picture vacuuming up the marble using pelvic floor muscles. Tighten for 3 seconds to lift the marble.
  • Relax for 3 seconds by taking a deep breath in and feel the air pouring into your lungs, your abdomen and down to your pelvic floor like a jug of water.
  • Make sure to not tighten your abs, thighs or butt and to keep breathing instead of holding your breath
  • Do 3 sets of 10 contractions and try to incorporate this exercise throughout your day

Relax your pelvic floor by incorporating some of these movements into your exercise routines.

pelvic floor exercises

You may think pelvic health is not an important factor to consider when looking at your overall health. But a strong pelvic floor can do wonders for you when it comes to your reproductive system, your sex life and your confidence (no leakages!).

If you’re having bowel or bladder control problems or pain during sex, speak to a physiotherapist or sexual health practitioner on oDoc who can help you find the right treatment. Download the app now.


  • 9 Things You Might Not Know About A Pelvic Floor And Why It Matters, 2021, Mind Body Green
  • 5 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Anyone and Everyone, 2021, Healthline
  • What are pelvic floor exercises, 2020, NHS

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