We are wrapping up our series on functional exercises, not kegels, that can help to activate and strengthen the pelvic floor. We talked all about breathing appropriately, we have talked about using squats (a personal favorite) for igniting activity in the pelvic floor muscles, and today we continue with another favorite…LUNGES! Remember, the whole reason we are talking about these other exercises for improving pelvic floor function is that the pelvic floor isn’t designed to work in isolation. When you first learned to control your bladder and bowels during your toddler years, it wasn’t because you knew how to do a kegel and you made a conscious effort to squeeze that muscle group every time you didn’t want to have an accident. In fact, as you began walking, running, playing in a deep squat posture, and learning how to shift weight and challenge balance, your body was figuring out how to use all the muscles together in your legs, bottom, back, belly and pelvis. So it makes sense that retraining those muscles to work again, maybe after pregnancy and childbirth, a surgery or injury, that we ask the muscles to all work together again. It is not that practicing a pelvic floor contraction (kegel) is bad, but there has to me more to pelvic floor rehab than just squeezing that muscle all by itself.
These dynamic lunges are a great addition to any body weight workout, or could incorporate weights or resistance bands for additional challenges. Here are my favorite directions to get my clients lunging. Forward/Backward (keeping toes and hips squared straight ahead), sideways (one set with toes and hips forward and a set with the toes pointing out in the direction you are stepping), and Backward with rotation (keeping a stationary foot pointing forward and the moving or lunging leg steps backward so that the toes and body face the direction of the step).
You really have a great opportunity to make these as easy or as challenging as needed by changing resistance/weight, how far you step out, and the stability of the surface on which you are stepping. Try stepping out as you are exhaling and breathing in when you return back to your start point.
That’s it, easy peasy. And certainly way more functional that relying solely on a kegel.