What is my pelvic floor and what does it do?


Think of the pelvic floor as a hammock in which your bladder, uterus and bowel sit in. It is a group of muscles which go from the front of your pubic bone all the way back to your coccyx. The pelvic floor is a phenomenal group of muscles! They allow you to control when to go to the toilet1, they help your legs to walk, they help with your posture and breathing, they help push a baby out and they help you have strong orgasms2!

The pelvic floor truly is the wonder woman of your muscles, discreet yet so powerful!

What can weaken my pelvic floor?

That’s not to say that our wonder woman muscle doesn’t need some help every now and again.

Throughout our lives, our pelvic floor can have a lot of pressure placed on it like during pregnancy or even by having a prolonged, bad cough (thank you covid eurgh!), which can weaken it. The menopause also has an effect on our pelvic floor and can lead it to become weaker. A weak pelvic floor can lead to various issues like leaking when we sneeze or cough, stand up or jump (stress incontinence), struggle to orgasm2, or even become a contributing factor in back and/or leg pain.

BUT, like all muscles, we can strengthen our pelvic floor with simple exercises.

How can I strengthen my pelvic floor?

Keeping a happy pelvic floor is easy with pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels), and can be done throughout the day, whenever you want. You don’t even have to go to the gym if you don’t want to!

It’s all about knowing where to squeeze:

Lie with knees bent or sit comfortably with both feet on the floor and bring your attention down to between your legs. Take a deep breath in, and as you breath out, squeeze as if you’re trying to stop yourself passing urine mid-flow. No clenching of your thighs though! Relax as you take a breath in.

Then repeat, but this time, focus on your back passage and squeeze as if you’re trying to stop yourself from passing wind. No clenching of your bum cheeks though! Relax on your out breath.

Finally, repeat, but this time focus on your vagina and squeeze as if you’re trying to stop a tampon being pulled out. Again no clenching of your thighs!

Got it? Which one felt strongest/could you feel the most? It doesn’t matter which one it is, just focus on that one when doing your exercises as working one, will work the whole pelvic floor. Once you’ve figured out which one suits you best, practice doing 10 quick squeezes (and don’t hold your breath when doing them!). You can then challenge yourself and hold each squeeze for 5 seconds, relax for 5 seconds then repeat. And that’s it, done! Easy right?

Once you’ve got that down pat, introduce it to all the areas where you might be having problems. Going to sneeze? Squeeze just before you sneeze. Want to stand up leak free? Squeeze before you stand. Or, just do them when you’ve got your feet up watching telly. It doesn’t matter where or when you do them, just do them!

Doing your pelvic floor exercises every day can help strengthen your pelvic floor and can help stop leaks (yes, even when bouncing on a trampoline!), take your orgasms to the next level and prevent back or leg pain. It can take time to strengthen your pelvic floor (up to 3 months) but hang in there, it’s worth it!

If you have questions or have any concerns, please feel free to book in with Róisín who can help you get back on track to having good pelvic floor health.

Jackie Gibbon

Specialist Women's Health Physiotherapist

Jackie qualified as a Physiotherapist in 2003 and has worked in the NHS ever since. In 2012, she decided to specialise in Women’s Health Physiotherapy after the birth of her eldest son, as she (herself) required the help of Physiotherapy during pregnancy and post-partum.

Jackie Gibbon

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