'I'm an exercise physiologist. There are 3 steps to save your pelvic floor.'

Your pelvic floor. How is she doing? 

If you're not pregnant or don't have kids, chances are you don't... really know. And honestly, same. But it's part of the body we don't think about enough. 

Because paying attention to your pelvic floor and keeping this area strong isn't just for pregnancy and post-pregnancy. It's an all-the-time thing that helps control everything from your bladder to sexual function. So, it's probably something worth looking into, right?

Watch: Pelvic floor strengthening exercises. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

That's why Mamamia spoke to MOVE trainer, exercise physiologist and female health specialist Noella Green from Shifting Health to find out the best exercises for a strong pelvic floor.

Here's what she told us.

What is your pelvic floor and why is it important?

In case you missed it, pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are actually very important. Like holding everything together important, providing vital support to the bladder and other organs. 

"This is a group of muscles that form the base of your pelvis. The muscles run from the tailbone to the pubic bone. Think of the PFM like a small trampoline, it connects to the outer frame (pelvic canal) and muscles forms across the space in between," Green tells us. 


"The muscles should be able to respond to pressure placed on it just like a person jumping on the trampoline. The PFMs have a deep (inner) layer responsible for holding pelvic organs in position (bladder, uterus and bowel), and a superficial (outer) layer that helps control opening and closing each passage (urethra, vagina and rectum). However, I like to keep it simple: your pee hole, vagina hole and bum hole."

The PFM not only supports a healthy bladder and bowel (this is why incontinence is a thing), but also sexual function. When weakened over time, these muscles insufficiently support the pelvic organs, affecting all of the above. 

Meaning? All woman need to be doing more pelvic floor work.  

What kind of common issues do women experience with their pelvic floor?

One of the most common issues? Bladder leakage. In fact, one in three Aussie women experience symptoms of bladder leakage

As Green told us, she regularly sees women with the inability to control bladder function under pressure such as coughing, sneezing, and laughing. 

"If we add physical activity to the mix, the same bladder control issue occurs with any impact activity like skipping, jogging and lifting heavy weights," she said. 

"For women who have endometriosis, lower back and pelvic pain as well as constipation are symptoms I see commonly reported. Many women have pelvic floor issues however are not aware or not reporting because they are simply not asked about it in health reviews."

This means women either don't seek help because they feel too embarrassed to ask about their symptoms or they don't know there's support available. The result? Lots of women who are slipping through the cracks, thinking their pelvic floor issues are just another thing they have to deal with silently.


"When there is dysfunction in the PFM (too weak or too tight) women can begin to experience symptoms such as constipation, painful sex, urgency to pee, unable to hold pee (incontinence), pelvic pain and back pain. These symptoms can also reduce physical and mental confidence," Green said. 

What kind of exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor?

So, what can we do about it? 

According to Green, there are many ways you can help strengthen and support your pelvic floor. And if you're experiencing some of these above issues on the regular, it all starts with seeking professional help.

"If there are any signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, I always recommend it be reviewed by a pelvic health and women's health physiotherapist," said Green.

"This can be an internal assessment of muscle control or it can be a normal physical assessment with the use of an ultrasound (external use) and great for physically seeing how different pelvic floor exercises changes the position of the bladder."

When it comes to different things you can do to help save your pelvic floor, Green said the focus should not just be on strengthening, but also about being able to activate and relax your PFMs with the rest of the muscles being used in a particular movement or exercise.

"Below are the two exercises you can do anytime of the day (sitting in traffic, commuting on public transport, preparing kids' lunches, having a shower) to build PF control in functional activities and exercises, and reduce the risk of PF dysfunction. These exercises can be done every day, and take a couple of minutes to do in complete ignorance to anyone around you (unless you have funny facials like me!)," Green said. 


"Firstly, always start on your back, bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the ground and hip width apart. This will take body weight pressure off your PF and allow you to focus on engaging the PF alone. If other muscle groups kick-in, this can be overcompensation patterns for PF dysfunction e.g. bum or hip muscles, abdominal muscles." 

"Secondly, the focus is to squeeze and lift your rectum as this focus will create a strong contraction across the entire PFMs."

In terms of the actual exercises, Green advises the below steps:

1. "Pelvic floor squeeze and lift followed by a fully relax/release (mentally note how strong the contraction is and how much time is takes to fully relax/release). Repeat the above exercise but this time complete 10 fast reps. Squeeze, lift and relax the rectum (mentally note how the contractions and relaxing feels — is it smooth or is it jerky?). Note: contractions won't be as strong as the previous exercise and will fatigue with each rep."

2. "Pelvic floor squeeze, lift and hold for 15 seconds. Count out loud for 15 seconds to make sure you are not holding your breath (make a mental note of how long you can hold that contraction. Does it get shaky? Does it slowly release from fatigue?).

According to Green, the goal here is to be able to confidently squeeze, lift, hold and relax in a smooth and controlled manner. 

"When you apply to the functional activities of everyday living and any physical activity, you should think of these exercises until you just naturally do it without thinking about it."


"For example, if you feel a sneeze coming on and fear the release of pee... cue poo hole squeeze, lift and hold... release after sneeze has passed."

If you're looking for more information about the pelvic floor, Green suggested checking out Continence Foundation of Australia. You can also follow Green on Instagram @_theshiftingep and accounts like @physioforwomen, @physiodetective and @femalephysioco for more information on pelvic floor health.

Of course, if you have any concerns about your pelvic floor muscles, it's best to consult your doctor.

Nelly is an accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist from 
Shifting Health. She's also MOVE by Mamamia's resident stretch expert (lucky us!). Nelly gets women’s bodies. She specialises in female physiology and in functional movement patterns that are designed to help improve your mobility and stability. Nelly has 15 years experience in the clinical space (plus a casual 10 years experience as a professional rugby union player) and she's passionate about helping people discover how powerful they really are.

If you want to MOVE with Nelly, click this link to start your 7 day free trial of MOVE.

Do you do regular pelvic floor exercises? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature Image: Instagram/ @_theshiftingep.

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