How to Optimise Pelvic Health Through Exercise and Lifestyle Modifications

Close-up of the female pelvis in the hands of an athletic, healthy woman.

We can’t see it. We probably don’t really think about it (unless something goes wrong with it). And there isn’t really much talk about it.

‘It’ is our pelvic floor, and it is working diligently in the background to keep us feeling comfortable, confident and healthy. This group of muscles and tissues is responsible for so much, from supporting our bladder and bowel functions to playing a vital role in sexual health and childbirth. It probably deserves more of our attention.

Ignoring the importance of a healthy pelvic floor can lead to surprising and uncomfortable consequences like urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and even back and hip pain. But the good news is that with a bit of knowledge and a few easy changes to our daily routines, we can keep our pelvic health in top shape. Whether you’re navigating pregnancy, just looking to age gracefully or want to feel confident and in control, understanding and caring for your pelvic health matters.


The Significance of Pelvic Health

Your pelvic health is integral to your overall well-being, supporting pelvic organs like the bladder, uterus and rectum. Keeping your pelvic floor muscles healthy contributes to proper organ function and can prevent issues like incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.


Understanding Pelvic Health

The pelvic floor is an intricate structure made up of a network of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues situated at the base of the pelvis. It acts as a supportive hammock that holds the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus and rectum, in place. It helps regulate the release of urine and faeces, maintaining continence and proper organ function.

The pelvic floor also has a significant impact on sexual function. These muscles are involved in arousal, orgasm and intercourse for both men and women. For women, a strong pelvic floor can also make childbirth smoother and recovery faster.

As with other muscle groups, the pelvic floor requires regular exercise and care to remain healthy and strong. Weakness or dysfunction in this area can lead to urinary or faecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and pain during sex. Paying attention to your pelvic health and proactively working to strengthen these muscles can help prevent these issues.


Identifying Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the likelihood of pelvic health issues:

Pregnancy and Childbirth

The weight and pressure of pregnancy and the strain of childbirth can overstretch or damage pelvic floor muscles.


Carrying excess weight can exert additional pressure on the pelvic floor, weakening its support.


Natural ageing leads to the gradual weakening of all muscles, including the pelvic floor.

Heavy Lifting

Consistent heavy lifting can strain pelvic muscles, leading to weakness over time.


Promoting Pelvic Health Through Exercise

It’s not all doom and downstairs gloom. Here are some specific exercises you can incorporate to enhance your pelvic health:

Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels)

Kegel exercises are an effective method for targeting and strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Here’s how to perform them correctly:

Locate the Muscles

Find your pelvic floor muscles by attempting to stop urination midstream. Avoid making this a habit, as it can interfere with normal bladder function.

Contract and Hold

Once you’ve identified the muscles, contract them as if trying to stop urination. Hold the contraction for about 3-5 seconds.


Gradually relax the muscles for the same duration.


For optimal benefit, aim for 10-15 repetitions, three times daily.

You can perform Kegels inconspicuously while sitting at your desk, on the bus or watching TV.

Core Strengthening

Strengthening your core helps stabilise the body and supports your pelvic floor. Here are a few exercises to consider:


Maintain a plank position (on your forearms and toes) for up to a minute or as long as you can. Keep your body straight, with your core tight and engaged.


Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your hips up, forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, and hold for a few seconds before lowering.


On hands and knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for a few seconds while keeping your body balanced and stable. Switch sides.


Adopting Healthy Habits

Lifestyle changes can help maintain a strong pelvic floor and support good pelvic health.


Maintaining good posture reduces stress on your pelvic floor and helps align your body. Keep your spine straight, shoulders relaxed, and head held high to avoid unnecessary strain.

Bladder Habits

Healthy bladder habits can prevent straining your pelvic floor:

  • Don’t Hold It: Respond promptly to your body’s cues and head to the restroom when needed.
  • Stay Hydrated:  Maintain consistent water intake but moderate consumption before bedtime.
  •  Fully Empty: When using the toilet, take the time to empty your bladder completely.


Incorporating Pelvic Health Into Daily Life

Integrating pelvic health exercises and healthy habits into your daily routine can mean sustainable improvements:

  • While Seated: Perform Kegels during work, meetings, or while relaxing on the couch.
  • While Standing: Focus on your posture and engage your core while cooking, standing in line, or waiting.
  • While Walking: Maintain an upright posture and keep your core engaged to support your pelvic floor.


Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle changes can improve your pelvic health and overall well-being:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Shedding excess weight can alleviate pressure on the pelvic floor.
  • Lift with Care: When you do need to lift heavy objects, use your legs and keep the load close to your body to minimise strain on your pelvic floor.
  • Practice Relaxation: Finding time to unwind can relieve stress and prevent unnecessary pelvic tension.


Professional Help for Pelvic Health

A physiotherapist can be a valuable resource when it comes to supporting your pelvic health. These specialists have the expertise to assess your pelvic floor strength and function, identify any underlying issues and provide tailored exercises and treatment plans to address your specific needs. 

Whether you’re dealing with incontinence, pelvic pain or recovering from childbirth, a physiotherapist can guide you on the path to recovery and optimal health. They offer personalised strategies, manual therapy and ongoing support to help you strengthen your pelvic floor and regain confidence. 

If you have concerns or encounter pelvic health challenges, contact the women’s health experts at Physio Connect. A physiotherapist can offer you the tools and knowledge to feel your best.


0800 111 788


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Here at Physio Connect, everything that we do is built off the belief that all New Zealanders should have equal access to expert, specialised musculoskeletal services that utilise the latest clinical evidence and treatment protocols.


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