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Strengthen pelvic floor muscles with these exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock that runs under the pelvis and supports the organs of the lower abdomen - the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Strong pelvic floor muscles are important to stabilize the pelvis and provide core strength for both men and women.

Incontinence and lower back pain can often be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. This is especially prevalent as people age and muscles naturally weaken. To keep the pelvic floor strong try these simple at home exercises:

Low bridge - Lie on the floor on your back, bend the knees so the feet are flat about hip distance apart, place the hands by the hips palms down, and press through heels to lift the hips off of the floor (lift no higher than shoulder blades). As you are lifting squeeze the pelvic muscles in and up (like you are stopping the flow of urine) and lower back down slowly. Repeat for fifteen repetitions.

Butterfly crunches - Sit on the floor with the legs in bound angle pose or butterfly. (Knees bent, legs open, and the soles of the feet together.) Lie all the way back keeping the feet together. Place the hands behind the head and relax the head back into the hands. Tip the pelvis to lift the legs off the floor while still in butterfly position. Begin to crunch in a slow controlled motion. Repeat for fifteen repetitions before lowering the legs.

Hip opener - Lie on the floor on your back and bend the knees so the feet are flat. Bring the feet all the way together and place the hands by the hips palms down. Inhale and open the knees as wide as is comfortable. Exhale and bring knees back together while squeezing the pelvic muscles in and up. Repeat for fifteen repetitions.

Perform these exercises two to three times per week. Notice any improvement in bladder control or pain levels. Add more repetitions as the muscles get stronger and the exercises become easier.