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Circle Health Group

What men need to know about their pelvic floor

Keep your pelvic floor strong and functioning properly with some simple Pilates exercises that focus on building core strength.

It's not just women who have to take care of their pelvic floor, it’s important for men too. Incontinence, lower back pain and erectile dysfunction can all result from a weakened pelvic floor, and if you’re a keen cyclist the excess pressure on the area when you’re sat in the saddle can exacerbate the problem.

But don’t hang up your padded shorts just yet. Cycling is a great all-round fitness activity and there are some simple steps you can take to reduce symptoms and help keep your pelvic floor functioning correctly.

So, if you’re hitting the road on your bike this summer, but find yourself held back by issues of a rather sensitive nature, find out what you can do to keep your pelvic floor strong and healthy.

What is my pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is like a hammock that is strung between your pubic bone at the front, each side of your sit bone and your coccyx at the back. It’s the only horizontal load bearing muscle in your body and it supports the contents of your pelvis and abdomen.

To find your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. But once you’ve identified them don’t continue to regularly stop your flow of urine midstream because it can be harmful to the bladder.

Now you’ve found them you’re ready to give them a regular workout. Sit or stand comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10 to 15 times in a row.

Once you’ve got used to doing this, try to hold each squeeze for a couple of seconds and add more squeezes - but don’t overdo it. Try not to hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles whilst you’re squeezing.

Repeating these exercises regularly is important to make them as effective as possible. Do them at the same time each day, so you get into the habit of making these exercises part of your everyday routine.

It’s important to squeeze in the right way or you could do more damage than good. If in doubt, speak to your physiotherapist.

Core Strength

The pelvic floor is considered as the foundation of your ‘core’, which also includes your abdominal and back muscles.

Pilates exercises designed to strengthen and stabilise your core muscles, can help to keep your pelvic floor functioning properly and treat incontinence, erectile dysfunction and lower back pain as well as preventing these from occurring.

These exercises can be carried out at home, though if you’re unsure if you are doing them correctly it may be useful to speak to a professional.

The knee fold will gently tone your pelvic floor muscles. Lie on the floor on your back with your arms by your side. Bend your knees and put your legs about hip distance apart. Take a deep breath. As you inhale lift one leg up from the floor keeping the knee bent and making sure your hips are flat on the floor.

This will work your thigh muscle but your abdominal muscles should exert the most pressure. Return the foot on the floor as you exhale. Repeat three times on each leg.

The added benefit

While the legs are a major source of power in cycling, your core muscles are the foundation. This is where all movement begins, including the circular motion of pedalling.

So, as well as helping to strengthen your pelvic floor, building your core strength will also help your cycling overall. That will help you to cycle faster and for longer, and make those all-important fractional gains.

If you have an injury or any concerns always consult a specialist before carrying out exercises.

Before you start any Pilates programme with BMI Healthcare you’ll have a one to one session with a chartered physiotherapist, who will make an assessment and help you to outline your goals.

We advise patients to start with a course of six weekly Pilates sessions to ensure you have the right techniques before continuing your exercises at home.

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Pay for yourself with the BMI card and spread the cost over 12 months, interest-free (terms and conditions apply)

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