5 Exercises targeting the pelvic floor muscles to alleviate urinary incontinence

If urinary incontinence is a concern for you, these pelvic floor exercises are essential for significant relief.

5 Exercises targeting the pelvic floor muscles to alleviate urinary incontinence

The pelvic floor muscles may weaken following childbirth or with age. These muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus, lifting the organs and tightening the entrances to the vagina, anus, and urethra upon contraction. When these muscles relax, urine and feces can be expelled from the body. Additionally, sexual function is influenced by pelvic floor muscles, which can be strengthened to reduce pelvic pain during intercourse and enhance pleasurable sensations. Throughout pregnancy, these muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process. Dr. Ananya Nema, Consultant Physiotherapist at Motherhood Hospitals in Indore, has outlined five pelvic floor exercises to alleviate urinary incontinence.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can result from factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging, obesity, heavy lifting, and chronic coughing. Symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles may include:

  • Incontinence
  • Unintentional loss of urine or feces
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse

During pelvic floor muscle training exercises, it is essential to maintain relaxation in the following muscles:

  • Abdominal
  • Buttocks 
  • Thigh

Exercises targeting the pelvic floor to manage urinary incontinence

A vaginal cone, a weighted device inserted into the vagina, can aid in strengthening these muscles. By tensing the pelvic floor muscles, the device is held in place. Below are five exercises you can perform to prevent and alleviate urinary incontinence.


The tightening and relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles, known as Kegels or pelvic muscle exercises, can be beneficial. If you experience urine leakage during activities such as sneezing, laughing, jumping, or coughing, or if you have a sudden urge to urinate before releasing a large volume of urine, Kegels may provide relief.

While these exercises primarily target stress urinary incontinence, they can also help with urge incontinence resulting from an overactive bladder. Engaging in these activities is crucial for building sufficient strength, coordination, and endurance to manage the effects of childbirth and aging.



Squats engage the body’s major muscles and lead to significant strength gains. Prioritize mastering proper form before adding any resistance to this fundamental exercise. The primary muscles involved include the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

The bridge

It’s a great exercise for targeting the glutes, and when performed correctly, it also activates the pelvic floor muscles. Even without added weight, the controlled pause and pulsing motion can be felt. This exercise primarily engages the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and pelvic floor muscles.

Split tabletop

The tabletop position is a foundational leg technique in many Pilates exercises. When performing this movement, you’re also working on your hips and engaging your pelvic floor muscles.

The abdominals, hips, and pelvic floor muscles are all activated during this exercise.

Bird dog 

This exercise involves multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the pelvic floor, making it a full-body movement that also enhances balance and stability. The muscles primarily engaged include the abs, back, glutes, and hips.

Bird dog 

If you’re uncertain about engaging the correct muscles in your pelvic floor, biofeedback and electrical stimulation can be helpful tools. Biofeedback is a technique that provides positive reinforcement by inserting electrodes along the anal area and abdomen. Some therapists may also use sensors inserted into the vagina or anus in men to measure pelvic floor muscle contractions. A graph displayed on a monitor illustrates which muscles are engaging and which are not, assisting the therapist in guiding pelvic floor muscle training.

If your pelvic floor muscles require strengthening, incorporating a few simple exercises into your routine can be beneficial. Remember to consciously engage these muscles during each exercise for optimal results.