Walking is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor. By walking at a brisk pace for 20–30 minutes several times per week, you’ll build pelvic floor strength. Choose an outdoor space with gentle slopes if possible. Alternatively, walk on a treadmill angled slightly upward. A healthy pelvic floor is key to preventing or reducing incontinence as well as protecting against organ prolapse.
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What are Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The muscles of the pelvic floor form a network of muscle tissue that connects the tailbone to the bones of the pelvis, including your pubic bone. These pelvic muscles control the release of urine, fecal matter, and flatulence. This makes them an essential set of muscles that should not be ignored when we discuss overall health.
What are the Risks of a Weak Pelvic Floor?
Pelvic floor weakness puts you at increased risk of fecal and urinary incontinence. Additionally, weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to prolapse of the bladder, bowel, and other pelvic organs. Whether you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms or wish to prevent them, this study found that brisk walking is one of the best pelvic floor exercises for preventing urinary incontinence.
5 Tips for Walking to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Your first step in improved pelvic floor strength is taking that first step. Add a walking routine to your exercise program to strengthen your essential muscles. To get the most out of walking and improve the strength of your pelvic floor, follow these tips.
Choose a Brisk Pace
Setting a pace with brisk, long strides will work wonders for your pelvic floor. By pushing yourself to work a little more strenuously than usual, you’ll give the muscles a workout. This increased tension will serve as excellent pelvic floor muscle training and increase your overall pelvic health.
Keep it Brief
There’s no need for marathons here. A brisk walk performed for 20–30 minutes is all that’s required to strengthen your essential pelvic floor muscles. Avoid pushing yourself to the point of fatigue. Exhausting your pelvic floor muscles can actually cause them to relax, doing more harm than good. Incorporate a 20–30-minute walk into your schedule 5–7 days per week to get great results.
Incorporate Gentle Slopes
If possible, walk in an outdoor space with gradual rises. Walking uphill recruits more muscle groups, leading to increased benefits for your pelvic floor. You don’t have to perform an intense hill climb since this will lead to exhaustion rather than improvement, but taking a winding path up a slope is excellent pelvic floor muscle training.
Use Your Glutes
The muscles in your butt, also known as your glutes, should be activated while walking to best strengthen your pelvic floor. The best way to do this is to walk with purpose, with long but comfortable strides. Walking slightly uphill also helps engage the correct muscles. If you’re not feeling a workout in your glutes, it’s time to increase the pace or try a longer stride.
Angle Your Treadmill Upward
In general, treadmills are not as effective at engaging the pelvic floor as walking on flat ground. This is because you do not have to push off the treadmill—you only need to lift your foot. Walking on a flat treadmill encourages less glute engagement. To make the treadmill a useful tool for working your pelvic floor, set a slower pace and angle the treadmill upwards. A 1–2 percent incline is best for active walking.
4 Walking Mistakes that Weaken Your Pelvic Floor
While certain forms of walking improve pelvic floor strength, others can be detrimental. At the same time, you literally take strides to get stronger, eliminate habits that work against you. To prevent damage or contribute to a weak pelvic floor, avoid these walking mistakes.
Wearing high heels works against your body’s natural biomechanics. To stand straight in heels, you are forced to shift your hips, pelvis, and back. Doing so decreases the activation of muscles in your pelvic floor. If you wear high heels, you may be weakening essential muscles. So, trade those heels out for a pair of flat-soled shoes.
While a brisk walk is essential for good pelvic floor health, running may work against you. The high-impact work of running can fatigue your pelvic floor and contribute to weakness over time. You’ll actually get better pelvic floor muscle training out of an energetic walk, making it a clear winner over high-impact exercise.
Walking Past the Point of Fatigue
Pushing yourself too hard on a walk is not healthy for your pelvic floor. Once the muscles become fatigued, they relax. This causes the pelvic floor muscles to lengthen and sag rather than tighten due to healthy exercise. It’s better to cut a walk short than to push yourself too far. As your fitness increases, longer walks will become easier.
A treadmill without incline does a poor job of simulating the act of walking. Rather than pushing off the ground as you do when walking on flat ground, all you have to do on a flat treadmill is lift your foot. To correct this, angle your treadmill up 1–2 degrees. This will require you to push off the treadmill belt, which engages more muscles and improves pelvic floor fitness.
How Long Does it Take to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles?
While you may see the results of walking and other pelvic floor exercises within weeks, it may take 1–3 months before your pelvic floor muscles truly begin to reach optimal levels of fitness. Remain patient, stick with a routine, and consult a doctor or physical trainer to reach your goals as quickly as possible while remaining safe.
Is Walking a Good Way to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor?
One of the best types of exercise for your pelvic floor is walking. The keys to using walking to prevent or correct pelvic floor muscle weakness are:
- Walk at a brisk but comfortable pace.
- Keep your walks around 20–30 minutes in length.
- Choose a walking path with gentle upward slopes.
- Make sure your glutes (buttock muscles) are working while you walk.
- If you are walking on a treadmill, angle it upward at a 1–2-degree slope.
With these simple exercise tips, you can increase your health and build strength in the muscles of your pelvic floor. Add walking to your fitness routine to experience the results yourself.