Here are some tips!
1. Pelvic Floor Muscles are a small group of muscles which sit at the “floor” of your pelvis.
They act like a muscular trampoline to resist any downward pressures such as coughing, sneezing and lifting.
2.They are important for control of your bladder and bowel, pregnancy and childbirth, pelvis and low back support and sex – so they are important muscles to know about!
3. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are recommended during pregnancy or if you have had a baby – research suggests doing these regularly prevents long term complications such as bladder leakage and prolapse as you age.
4. If you have pelvic pain or pain with intercourse, pelvic floor muscle relaxation is recommended as tightening the muscles with strength exercises can make the pain worse.
Check with your GP or Women’s Health Physio if you have any concerns.
5.You don’t have to lie on the floor to do pelvic floor exercises!
These muscles work for you in all your daily activities.
Learning to do the exercises in lying can be helpful, once you are confident practicing in sitting, standing then with other tasks trains the muscles to be strong and functional – very important for long term results!
6. Routine! This is SO important – having a healthy pelvic floor really do play a crucial role in prevention (as well as treatment) of incontinence, prolapse and sexual dysfunctions. Exercising (or relaxation) regularly is necessary to maintain this, just like any other muscle in your body – you need to use it or lose it! So no procrastinating, learn how to do them and then add them straight into your daily routine (not on to your to do list!)
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Example Exercise program for your pelvic floor muscles:
- Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor, tightening around your front passage, vagina and back passage (imaging you are holding onto a wee/holding in a tampon/holding in wind).
- Continue breathing, aim to keep your abdominal muscles relaxed, legs and buttocks relaxed. You may feel some tightening of your lower abdominal muscles, this is normal.
- Relax and feel the muscles let go. You should feel a lowering of the pelvic floor. This is important as the muscles need to completely relax before you start the next squeeze; or if you do not feel a relaxation, the muscles may have already let go – this may be an indication that the muscles are not strong enough to hold as long as you were trying.
Training program – start lying down:
- 10x5sec holds, rest for 5 seconds between each squeeze (remember to keep breathing!)
- 10x1sec hold, rest for 1-2seconds (make sure you completely relax, you may need a few seconds to do this when you are first training the muscles!)
- Repeat this program x2-3
- Progression 1: increase the long hold from 5sec to 10sec
- Progression 2: repeat the program in sitting
- Progression 3: repeat the program in standing
This program aims to give you an initial strength and control exercise program.
If you do not feel a pelvic floor squeeze, notice a bulge or bearing down around the pelvic floor, no improvement in your problem or an increase in pain – stop doing the exercises and seek help with your pelvic floor training. Many people cannot do the exercises correctly just with reading about the training, so don’t worry!
A full assessment and cues to help develop a training program specific for your needs is important for you to get the best results both immediately and in the long term.
Good luck with your pelvic floor training!
Jane Rothe, myPhysioSA Senior Womens Health Physiotherapist