5 tips for a stronger pelvic floor — for women, for men, for everyone!
by Jann Gerrit Ohlendorf at December 20, 2022
An interview with Caspar Clinic therapists Nina Lutter & Ticiana Henckel
Getting to know your pelvic floor and performing pelvic floor exercises is more than just a women's issue. You see, most women know how beneficial a well-trained pelvic floor is for everyday life. Yet men tend ignore the mesh of muscles and connective tissue in their pelvis, leading to unpleasant (and avoidable) consequences over the long term. For starters, a strong pelvic floor trained to tense up at the right moment is critical for bladder control. But its benefits extend far beyond that. The pelvic floor is actually the real "load carrier" for our internal organs, including your bladder, intestines, and for some, the uterus. Imagine the pelvic floor as a taut hammock, supporting the diaphragm – whether you’re breathing, speaking, singing, or laughing. In short, it’s a true multi-talent.
Nina Lutter and Ticiana Henckel from Caspar Health are especially tuned in to the importance of the pelvic floor in daily life. The two physical therapists regularly share their knowledge with their patients at the Caspar Clinic – and have even given webinars on the subject. In this article, they share their knowledge, give practical tips, and reveal why the pelvic floor fascinates them so much.
"For me, my passion for the pelvic floor comes from my physical therapy studies," says Ticiana Henckel. "My lecturer at the study center in Wannsee was so entranced by the pelvic-floor, and her enthusiasm was contagious. It was from her that I first heard the phrase"`Po in the toilet" — a practical mnemonic device for teaching people about optimal posture. It’s a phrase I often pass on to my own patients.” Henckel also got the practical idea of placing a cosmetic bucket or stool in the bathroom for support from Ms. Hauswald, she says.
Nina Lutter also has a vivid memory of learning about the pelvic floor during her studies:
“I noticed that my male classmates had a very hard time with this topic.'' And yet, the pelvic floor is just as important for men as it is for women, and training it has benefits for young and old. “Given this, it’s best to not wait with strength training until problems arise,'' she advises. Risk factors such as obesity, chronic constipation, and (especially) pregnancy and childbirth are all a strain on the pelvic floor. Problems can also occur due to so-called postural degeneration, triggered by careless posture – be it from sitting poorly or lifting heavy loads.
There’s no doubt: pelvic floor training is beneficial for all genders and all ages. However, it’s also not a cure-all for every bladder or bowel disorder. “Always seek out professional medical advice if you’re experiencing issues," says Henckel.
Nothing to be ashamed of: A well trained pelvic floor supports great sex, laughter, and breathing – and prevents incontinence
Being able to contract your pelvic muscles during sex at the right time – and in the right place – can offer a significant amount of pleasure. Women's magazines have been raving for years about how beneficial pelvic floor training is for a women’s sex life. And they aren’t wrong – it’s not nicknamed the “love muscle” for no reason! For women, an intact pelvic floor improves sensation in the areas that matter most, making sex more enjoyable. However, a well-trained pelvic floor is equally beneficial for men. If these muscles become too lax, it can lead to impotence.
Furthermore, pelvic floor training can effectively counteract mild bladder problems. As the "lock keeper" for the intestines, urinary, and sexual organs, the pelvic floor can function well into old age if the muscles are strengthened through targeted training and kept in good condition.
But even outside of training, there are a few practical tips that can help you tighten your pelvic floor in everyday life. Let’s dig in.
Good posture doesn’t just look good, it also strengthens your pelvic floor
A sloppy gait can be a stress test for the abdominal organs, leading to unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor muscles. The same thing applies when seated. Sitting upright on the couch or in an office chair is beneficial – but with some important caveats. First, it’s better to avoid sitting for too long. Try to stand up and do a bit of activity during the day to give your body a break. Secondly, adjust your posture from time to time when sitting.
Lifting with your knees isn’t a sign of weakness
When something heavy needs to be moved, it pays to bend your knees. This signals to the abdominal muscles that they’re needed to help with the lifting. This in turn offers protection for your pelvic floor. So, instead of lifting from your back and keeping your legs straight, lift with your knees! This way, you won’t need to worry about how the various muscle groups are working together during lifting. Also, focus on your breathing during strenuous lifting. Holding your breath can impact your coordination, which won’t make the job any easier.
We can only train a muscle once we know where it is
Here’s the good news (especially for men): Although you might not have thought much about your pelvic floor, it does exist – and it needs your attention! But before strengthening the pelvic floor through targeted tension and relaxation, you’ll need to track it down. For most people, this can be done by simply imagining that you’re interrupting the stream when urinating. This will tense up the sphincter muscle, helping you activate your pelvic floor.
It pays to learn to sneeze properly
Once you’ve had a good sneeze, it is important to alleviate the pressure on the pelvic floor. Otherwise, the small "explosion" can catch the pelvic floor completely off guard. For those with a weak pelvic floor, even sneezing can lead to a leaky bladder. As a preventative measure, try this trick when sneezing: Adopt an upright posture, activate the pelvic floor, turn it slightly to the side, and then sneeze over your shoulder.