Building and maintaining a strong pelvic floor is crucial for women of all ages. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis that supports the womb, bladder, and bowels. So if these muscles become weak—whether it’s due to childbirth, pregnancy, aging, or weight gain—it may be challenging to control your bladder and bowel activity. This is referred to as incontinence, a condition that affects nearly 25 million Americans, 75% to 80% of which are women.
You’ve likely already heard of kegels, the most common method for strengthening the pelvic floor. But there are plenty of additional exercises you can try to help train your pelvic floor. Watch this video to see yoga and fitness expert Kristin McGee (who recently gave birth to twins!) demonstrate three simple yet effective moves for strengthening your pelvic floor.
Before you begin her exercises, keep in mind that each one requires you to focus on engaging your pelvic floor. As Kristin describes it, this should feel like you just drank five lattes, you really have to go to the bathroom, and you’re really holding it all in.
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Here’s a quick preview of her go-to exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor and lower abs all at once:
Knee folds: This move is very subtle—it simply involves lying on your back, knees bent, and then slowly lowering one knee to the floor before bringing it back up. That’s why, instead of focusing on the movement itself, you should draw your attention to engaging the pelvic floor, lower abs, and inner thighs the entire time.
Toe taps: Staying on your back, lift your legs up to tabletop. Feel the connection from the lower abs to the pelvic floor as you alternate bringing your toes down to the mat. Think about hinging from your hip, using the lower abs and pelvic floor to bring your leg back up.
Hip bridges: Engage your abdominals and pelvic floor before you start to bridge up, then bring the hipbones up to the sky. Then hollow out even more and really engage the pelvic floor. Then slowly lower your back to the mat, starting with your upper back, middle back, then lower back. Once you reach the mat, you can release your pelvic floor, and then re-engage as you do this move again.