No, we’re not talking about kegels.
Whether you’re getting ready to have a baby and want to strengthen those below-the-belt muscles, you leak a little every time you do box jumps, or you just want to keep things nice and strong down there—it’s a good idea to start strengthening your pelvic floor.
“If someone is having symptoms of any kind of leaking urine, that means they have pelvic floor dysfunction—they inherently have a weakness,” says Debbie Cohen, P.T., C.S.C.S., owner of Fundamental Physical Therapy & Pelvic Wellness in Poway, California. She adds that while a lot of CrossFitters tout a little leaking as a badge of honor, no amount of leakage is normal.
If you’re sick of kegels, a lot of the moves you do for glute and hip strength actually work your pelvic floor, too. “All the hip muscles attach at the pelvic bone, so those will help with strengthening,” says Cohen.
Two of the best: marching glute bridge and a goblet sumo squat.
Both use the pelvic floor as an accessory muscle to the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and adductors, Cohen shares. But beginners should start with the marching glute bridge.
“The main difference between these two moves is that one is against gravity and the other isn’t. In the sumo squat, your pelvic organs are weighing against the pelvic floor, not to mention the dumbbell in your hands, so it’s a little more challenging as you go down and up,” she explains.
The glute bridge, on the other hand, has your pelvis horizontal with gravity. As with any weakness, you want to fix it by starting with the foundational exercise with minimal resistance and work your way up to the one that’s harder as your strength progresses.
Cohen adds that while both these moves are a great addition to your workout routine, if you’re having semi-regular urine leakage or pelvic pain, you should consult with a specialist. “The best moves to strengthen your pelvic floor are personalized to the problem, so working with a trained professional can really help,” she adds.
MARCHING GLUTE BRIDGE
How to: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lift one knee to your chest, lower back to the start, and lift your other knee to your chest. Continue alternating back and forth.
GOBLET SUMO SQUAT
How to: Grasp the head of a heavy dumbbell and hold it in front of your chest. Set your feet at about twice shoulder width, your toes turned out slightly. Lower your body down by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep.