Does Walking Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The good news is that, YES, walking can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Just like any other muscle, the best way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is to use them and exercise them.
Walking is a really simple but effective way to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Walking requires no equipment and is free to access for everyone. Even walking just around in the house is better than no walking at all.
Getting out and about in nature is probably the best way to enjoy a walk but finding a walking routine that works for you is the most important factor.
How does walking helps strengthen the pelvic floor?
All muscles need to be exercised to keep functional, and the pelvic floor is no exception.
You should also be mindful of your posture and line up your body, ensuring you are not hunching your shoulders.
Pull in your stomach muscles, pull back shoulders and walk tall. Think 'Lights On' (push that chest out).
The proper walking gait involves the heel striking the floor first and the foot rolling forwards to push off from your toes.
Any walking will help engage your pelvic floor muscles, but some people consider Nordic walking to be the most superior form of exercise for strengthening the pelvic core.
Nordic walking involves using two poles and maintaining a brisk pace through the countryside, which has naturally uneven terrain. If you are considering Nordic 1 walking but have never tried it before, it's probably sensible to find a group locally that can help you develop a good technique.
- The key is be active with your heel/toe roll, as this will help you to engage your glutes and the whole back /posterior line of your body much better.
- This will also help to activate your pelvic floor more effectively as this back line connects through your pelvis where your pelvic floor muscles are attached. So when you do a hell/toe roll effectively, you feed better muscle energy through the whole back line of the body.
- Push your pole into the ground to help stimulate your deep core muscles. The firmer the push against the resistance of the pole in the ground, the better they can work.
- Also allow your deep abdominals time to relax – don’t keep your tummy pulled in throughout your walk. It’s fine to tighten it to help with your balance going up/downhill and on slippy ground but keeping it permanently tight (bracing) can cause bearing-down on your pelvic floor. This can potentially cause a weakness here and impact on your breathing and movement pattern. Again, think trampoline – for all your deep core muscles.
- Rotation in your upper body (and the small counter-rotation of your pelvis) when Nordic walking allows the muscles around the whole of your spine and pelvis to work effectively together. Strengthening their connection and improving your body’s overall movement.
- Use your diaphragm for breathing whilst Nordic walking.
To get maximum benefit, do some Kegels when walking too.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also beneficial to your pelvic floor muscles, and walking is an excellent exercise for this as well. Be sure to walk in sensible shoes, high heels are very bad for posture, and if you are walking to exercise your pelvic floor, you need to do so in well-fitting sensible walking shoes or trainers.
There is no need to run, and actually, if you have experienced any symptoms that suggest your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you will find that running can put unnecessary strain on your pelvic floor and cause issues like urine leakage.
How often should I walk?
It is recommended, if possible, that you walk for about half an hour a few times a week, and you will soon be able to see the results. Moving is good for the body, so anywhere you can walk is a positive start.
Perhaps you could park further away from the office or go for a walk during your lunch hour if you have a busy life.
If you live in a two-story house and therefore have stairs, you could also walk up and down the stairs carefully a few times to engage your pelvic floor muscles.
Finding a buddy makes any form of exercise seem less of a chore, and it is likely that you have other female friends in your circle who could also really benefit from strengthening the pelvic floor muscles because, as we age, we are all prone to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
Make a regular schedule to meet up with some friends and walk
Where should you walk?
If you are planning to walk to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, then you should be thinking about an incline. That means aiming for surfaces that have a gradient. Walk up a gentle slope, try a steeper hill, or if you can't get out and about, use a treadmill with a gradient and incline it slightly upwards.
Many people don't realise that a treadmill used completely flat doesn't really replicate walking outside. Even a slight angle is a better form of exercise than none at all.
You can also climb stairs which are good for the knees as well as the pelvic floor, and if you live in a flat or single-story building, be sure to find stairs in the workplace or out on your walk that you can use to compensate for the fact that you don't have any at home.
Walking up hills or on an even terrain makes the body work harder, and therefore the pelvic floor muscles need to engage to stabilise you while you're unsteady.
Walking in a forest or across the field gives you more of a workout than strutting along the pavement. But the bottom line is that walking of any kind is more beneficial than no exercise at all.
Can You Do Kegels While Walking?
Yes, you absolutely can do your pelvic floor Kegels while you are walking. Initially, it might feel a little strange, and if you've never done Kegels before, we do suggest you start by sitting down to do them.
But once you are confident with how you perform a Kegel exercise, you can start doing them while you are walking or waiting in a queue. Remember, the basic premise of a Kegel exercise is to contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for a couple of seconds and then relax.
Initiate might feel quite strange to walk and do Kegels at the same time, but with a little bit of practice, you will soon find that it becomes natural.
If you are walking up a steep hill, you may find it easier to synchronise your Kegels with your stride, and you should also ensure you don't hunch forward but stand straight; otherwise, your exercises will be counter-productive.
The pelvic floor gets weaker as we age and can be exacerbated by carrying children and giving birth.
Signs that your pelvic floor muscles are not as strong as they could be, include urine leaking, especially if you sneeze, and in severe cases, prolapse.
The best way to prevent future damage to your pelvic floor muscles and to ensure they remain strong is to exercise them regularly.
Walking is a safe and proven exercise method for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. You need to ensure that you have a good posture, sensible walking shoes that do not restrict your toes and use inclines and hills to help you get the best from your walk.
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