Try This Simple 5-Minute Workout Daily To Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor exercises really can benefit everyone – no matter your age or gender.
Dean Mitchell via Getty Images

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The pelvic floor! We all know it helps to have a strong one, but those two words feel a bit mystical sometimes – not least because they refer, not to one muscle, but to a group of them that lie, as the name suggests, under our pelvis.

These muscles matter because they support our organs – the bladder, the intestines and the uterus – and also play a crucial role in keeping us continent.

As the NHS website makes clear, “pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder, bottom, and vagina or penis.” And while it’s often women who are told to do them most, they really can help everyone, the NHS says.

They are key to good health and if you’re pregnant or planning to be, you should definitely practise them ahead of birth to lower the risks of incontinence after it.

Hollie Grant, award-winning pilates instructor and prenatal fitness expert is a big advocate, with pelvic floor exercises central to The Bump Plan, her holistic exercise programme for mums-to-be,.

But, as the NHS does, she stresses that anyone can do the routine below and benefit from it. The first two exercises in the five-minute workout Grant has designed involve the standard holds and pulses she calls “the bread and butter of pelvic floor training” – and she’s added three more for added endurance.

Practise all five, and keep practising them, to feel long-lasting benefits.

1) Holds

Hollie Grant

These help to build endurance of the pelvic floor and target the slow twitch endurance muscles. We are aiming for a hold of 8-10 seconds max (but don’t worry if it’s less than this) and 10 reps. You can try these in seated, four-point kneeling, lying on your back or (the hardest) in standing. Inhale and as you exhale imagine tightening/squeezing the anus, vagina and urethra and lifting them upwards to lift the pelvic organs.

Try to maintain the hold while breathing (that can be tricky but important) and then release when ready. It’s just as important to release the pelvic floor, as it is to contract it so don’t forget to release between each hold.

2) Pulses

Hollie Grant

These help to build strength in the pelvic floor and target the fast twitch (back up army) muscles. We are aiming for a rapid, short lift of the pelvic floor, with a release between each. Aim for 10 pulses. Use the same technique as with the holds, but obviously they will be much shorter and faster.

3) The Knack

Hollie Grant

Start in standing, with the feet hip-width apart and parallel. As you inhale drop down into a squat position, imagining you are about to sit down onto the toilet. You really want to be sat back and down into the position – not trying to touch your toes. Once here, exhale to lift the pelvic floor and push yourself back to standing. You’re essentially lifting the pelvic floor, before lifting yourself.

Repeat for 10-12 reps.

4) Zips

Hollie Grant

Start in four-point kneeling (on hands and knees), with a nice neutral spine (not overly rounded, or extended). Visualise a zip that runs from the tailbone, up past the pubic bone, past the belly button and up to the sternum (the middle of the ribcage). Start with this imaginary zip open, so the tummy and pelvic floor are relaxed. Inhale, and as you exhale imagine zipping yourself up from the tailbone to the sternum.

Another way of visualising this is tightening the anus, vagina and then urethra, and drawing the tummy in slightly. Inhale to “unzip” and allow the tummy to soften and release. What you are essentially doing is contracting your pelvic floor and then your transverse muscle, and then allowing them to release. You may even see your tummy move as you do this.

Repeat for 10-12 reps.

5) Glute bridges

Hollie Grant

Start by lying on your back with a neutral pelvis, feet hip width apart, knees bent. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale press your feet into the floor, and start to lift the hips up towards the ceiling until you have a diagonal line running from the knees to the chest. Your pelvis should still feel relatively neutral (so don’t go so high that it’s sticking out). Inhale to stay and then exhale to slowly lower the pelvis back down to the ground.

Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.

HuffPost UK / Rebecca Zisser