Maybe you’ve heard of trampoline jumping strengthening your pelvic floor and you’re wondering, like I was, if it’s true.
Jumping regularly on a trampoline is great for strengthening your pelvic floor and preventing uterine prolapse. In cases of severe prolapse, intensive jumping is not advised, but for general pelvic floor health, rebounding increases blood flow and makes these muscles more responsive.
I don’t think I ever thought for two seconds about my pelvic floor until I’d had my first child. Suddenly things I had never thought about before became very important.
What is Your Pelvic Floor?
In women, the pelvic floor is the figure-eight-shaped sling-like muscle group that governs three orifices: urethra, sphincter, and vagina. It also supports the bladder, rectum, and uterus.
The trauma of childbirth can affect these muscles, making it possible for collapse and uterine prolapse, where the uterus caves into the vagina. The weakening of these muscles can also happen as a result of estrogen loss during menopause.
Generally, to avoid this result and strengthen the pelvic floor, people do Kegel exercises, tightening and loosening these muscles periodically as a daily exercise.
I recently learned that men can also experience pelvic floor dysfunction, possibly caused by surgery, infection, scar tissue, heavy lifting or sitting for a long periods of time.
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction in men include difficulty coordinating or relaxing these muscles, leaking urine or stool, a frequent need to pee, constipation, or straining to have a bowel movement.
Restoring Your Pelvic Floor Health
Some suggestions for relaxing tight pelvic floor muscles:
- Take a warm bath to relax your muscles. (Highly recommend Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts, available at Walmart, to aid in muscle relaxation.)
- Avoid straining when using the bathroom.
- Try yoga and stretching.
Ultimately, severe dysfunction and prolapse may require surgery. Before it gets to that point, there may be something you can do to strengthen and relax your pelvic floor.
Kegels are usually a good idea before a problem occurs. It’s something that can be very gentle to begin strengthening your pelvic floor muscles after trauma or stress.
According to Healthline.com, contracting and relaxing these muscles is essential for urination, bowel movements, and sexual intercourse.
However, if your pelvic floor is already in severe dysfunction, Kegels may not be the best option.
You could try biofeedback with a therapist to learn to relax and coordinate these muscles again. Gentle stretching is advised.
For those simply looking to support weak muscles, Kegels, yoga, squats, and other core exercises also benefit your pelvic floor.
Is Trampolining Good or Bad For Pelvic Floor Strength?
It’s almost a joke among post-partum women that jumping on a trampoline or sneezing after childbirth is dangerous if you want dry pants. Leaking pee is a symptom of weak pelvic floor muscles.
My first few times jumping on a trampoline post-partum did result in some urine scares. But I found that the more practice I had jumping, the stronger those muscles became.
In conjunction with other exercises, like Kegels and squats, trampolining helped me to re-strengthen these muscles after the trauma of childbirth.
In cases of extreme prolapse, either rectal or uterine, you would not want to engage in any kind of intensive strain on these muscles and the main goal would be to relax them, not strengthen them.
Certainly you’ll want to consult a doctor to discuss your options, from surgery to physical therapy.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to gently build up your strength, and you don’t suffer from severe prolapse or dysfunction, try trampolining.
As a bonus, trampolining not only strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, but also your core muscles. It’s good exercise for your legs and butt, too. If you’re looking to get into lean muscle shape, you can’t beat trampolining.
Running on a mini trampoline has also been found to burn calories faster than running on a treadmill or stationary cycling.
There are trampoline workout videos available on YouTube or commercially, like this one from Hip Shake Fitness.
Dancing on a trampoline to a JLo song–what could be more fun? I think jumping on a trampoline post-partum is one of the best things I’ve done for my body.
Of course I waited 4-6 weeks before starting any kind of exercise. And I started slow, with just a few minutes jumping on a large backyard trampoline, which I feel has even more flexibility and give than the mini ones.
Low-Impact vs. High-Impact Exercise For the Pelvic Floor
Jumping is actually less high-impact than running, so this ended up being a good transition activity for me, easing me back into my marathoning lifestyle. (Full disclosure: I’ve only run two marathons, but am planning to help my husband run his first marathon next October, making it three!)
Running on a sidewalk or asphalt is tough on all the muscles and joints. During one of my first races after birthing my eldest son, I was so embarrassed by weak and leaky pelvic floor muscles. It was the Wasatch Back Ragnar and my teammates had to hold up a towel so I could change by the side of the road after a pretty bad bout of incontinence during my leg of the race.
High-impact exercise like running isn’t ideal after the trauma to the pelvic floor that childbirth causes.
The mesh mat of a trampoline is designed to stretch out the impact of gravity so it’s easier on your joints and muscles.
If you’re already overweight, like I always am after pregnancy, the stress of running on your joints needs to wait for some healthy weight loss.
Trampolining gives you an opportunity to burn some calories in a low-impact way until gravity (ahem, your weight on your joints) isn’t quite as heavy.
Before You Start Trampolining
To prepare your body for trampolining, you should do the even more gentle exercises mentioned in this article, like Kegels, squats, and yoga poses that engage your core.
There’s a connection between your core muscles and your pelvic floor muscles, so exercising your core is a good way to strengthen (gently) your pelvic floor muscles, too. Yoga is excellent exercise for your core.
Ease into trampolining. There’s no reason to pee your pants. If you find that you’re having trouble engaging your pelvic floor muscles and you’re afraid you’re about to pee all over the mat, just take a break and relax your muscles.
Keep doing those gentle exercises we talked about, and come back to the trampoline when you’re feeling stronger.
For me, it took a few weeks of this off and on behavior, listening to my body and trusting myself to know my own limits. I’d practice on the trampoline for a few minutes at first, and each time I could do it for a longer period of time.
It was like my own mini version of pelvic floor physical therapy.
Eventually, after several weeks, I was able to join my family in taking turns on the trampoline with no fear of leaky incontinence.
I have given birth six times now, and each time I recover, I find I need to be patient with myself. Whatever the cause of your pelvic floor weakness, you need to be patient with yourself, too.
A healthy core and pelvic floor is worth the patience.