Why men should do pelvic floor exercises
Okay guys, listen up.
You’ve probably heard the women in your life talk about exercising their pelvic floor muscles, but did you know this practice can be good for menfolk too?
It’s a common belief that men don’t even have a pelvic floor – but they do. It just isn’t talked about very often.
So, what’s the pelvic floor? It’s a group of muscles and ligaments that span from your tailbone to your pubic bone and across the width between your sitting bones, which the Continence Foundation of Australia describes as a “mini trampoline”. The pelvic floor supports the bladder and bowel, so it makes sense that a weak set of muscles could cause some problems.
Things that can make those muscles weak include heavy lifting, obesity, high impact exercise, straining on the loo and age.
Research indicates that giving the pelvic floor muscles a workout is good for you in a few ways:
Dr Frank Jones, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, explains, “Men can experience some bladder dysfunction, although it’s not as common a problem as it is in females, and teaching men to do these exercises is worthwhile for a man who has an urgency problem.”
The bottom line? “If a man has a waterworks issue, he should visit a doctor to find out if it’s a blockage problem or the prostate,” says Dr Jones.
Regular pelvic floor exercises can also help with prostate health – an area of their anatomy that many men are either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, thanks to its out-of-the-way location.
“Most men don’t know where or what the prostate is,” says Dr Jones. “The prostate is a little gland that sits underneath the neck of the bladder, and its function is to lubricate the sperm. As it gets older it tends to enlarge, and that can cause blockage symptoms.
“Pelvic floor exercises would be useful post prostatic surgery when men do have continence issues,” says Dr Jones, “and seeing a physiotherapist to teach you the exercise would be useful in that situation.”
Of course, if you have any concerns see your GP.
A better sex life
A lot of men can find discussing issues like premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction somewhat difficult, and it could be reassuring to hear that pelvic floor exercises can provide some assistance with these issues.
A 2005 study in the U.K. found that pelvic exercises helped 40 percent of men with erectile dysfunction achieve more consistent erections.
“Men with strong pelvic floor muscles have better erectile function,” says physiotherapist Shan Morrison. And that alone is a great reason to do these exercises.
Overall body strength
Scott Capelin, personal trainer and founder of Embody fitness studio adds that there can be some preventative benefits too: “Pelvic floor exercises are great for men, and super important when considering the overall balance of strength throughout the body.
“Most men are strong through the larger global muscles such as the chest, back, shoulders and legs, however a proportionately weaker pelvic floor can lead to a sore, tight lower back and also and lower back disc injuries.”
How blokes can do pelvic floor exercises
Find your pelvic floor
First, you’ll have to find the muscles and learn what it feels like to activate them. “Lie on your back and place your fingers on your hip bones; visualise a wire running from bone to bone; inhale, and as you exhale pull your stomach away from the imaginary wire; imagine narrowing your waist and pulling up from your perineum,” advises Capelin. “It’s about educating yourself where these muscles are located, what their role is, and how to engage them.”
Try tightening just those muscles
This is where things get tricky, because if you’re exercising a weak set of pelvic floor muscles the stronger surrounding muscles tend to take over.
“The best thing you can do is try to imagine you’re stopping the flow of urine,” says Morrison.
Dr Jones adds, “The exercise isn’t just tightening your buttocks; it’s tightening your anal sphincter as if you’re stopping yourself from going to the toilet – that’s the muscle you need to be using”
Now, brace yourself for this next tip. “Imagine that you’re shortening your penis,” Morrison suggests. “If you’re watching yourself in the mirror you should see an elevation of the testes or the scrotum, and then a retraction at the base of the penis.”
Technique is key
There are a couple of tricks to finding out whether you have the right technique happening.
“Try to stop your flow when you’re on the toilet,” says Morrison. “The other thing you can do is watch yourself in the mirror and see the penis retract and the scrotum lift.”
Every day is good, twice a day is better – and you can see your GP, physiotherapist or trainer for a tailored pelvic floor workout plan.
To find out more
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website