Oct 18 2013

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Welcome to this new web resource about pelvic floor exercises.

This info site about the pelvic floor and pelvic floor strengthening exercises was inspired by my pregnant partner and a lack of consolidated information on the web. This site aims to bring together a wide range of information regarding pelvic floor exercises and toning and the many conditions and issues they can help address.

How Pelvic Floor Exercises can help

The pelvic floor muscles are involved in a wide range of bodily functions and its surprising the benefits and life-improvements you can gain by keeping them trim. So feel free to browse this site for information on how they can help you in pregnancy, with incontinence and even improve your sex life.

What next?

Regular pelvic floor exercises are one way you can tone your pelvic muscles but there are also many products on the market which can help and you might even find that changing your diet or cutting out coffee can help.

These are sometimes known as Kegel exercises after the doctor who developed them or as “Pelvic floor muscle training” or PFMT.

They are one of the initial treatments for stress incontinence and may have other benefits. There is no evidence that pelvic floor exercises help urge incontinence

Step 1 – Identify your Pelvic Floor Muscles

The first thing to do is to identify correctly the muscles that need to be exercised.

  • Sit or lie comfortably with muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen relaxed.
  • Tighten the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to control diarrhoea or wind. Relax it. Practice this movement several times until you are sure you are exercising the correct muscle. Try not to squeeze your buttocks or tighten your thighs or tummy muscles.
  • Imagine you are passing urine, trying to stop the flow mid-stream, then restarting it. (You can do this “for real” if you wish, but do so only to learn which muscles are the correct ones to use: do not make a practice of it or it may interfere with normal bladder emptying.)

If you are unable to feel a definite squeeze and lift action of your pelvic floor muscles (or are unable to even slow the stream of urine as above), you should seek professional help to get your pelvic floor muscles working correctly.

Even people with very weak pelvic floor muscles can be taught these exercises by a physiotherapist or continence advisor with expertise in this area.

Step 2 – Performing Pelvic Floor Exercises

Disclaimer: Always consult a health professional before undertaking these exercises.

While doing the exercises:

  • DO NOT hold your breath
  • DO NOT push down instead of squeezing and lifting up
  • DO NOT tighten your tummy, buttocks or thighs

Keep At it! It can take weeks or months to notice a difference but its worth it.

Now that you can feel the muscles working, you can start to exercise them:

  • Tighten and draw in strongly the muscles around the anus and the urethra all at once. Lift them up inside. Try and hold this contraction strongly as you count to five, then release slowly and relax for a few seconds. You should have a definite feeling of “letting go”.
  • Repeat (“squeeze and lift”) and relax. It is important to rest in between each contraction. If you find it easy to hold the contraction for a count of five, try to hold for longer – up to ten seconds.
  • Repeat this as many times as you are able up to a maximum of 8-10 squeezes. Make each tightening a strong, slow and controlled contraction.
  • Now do five to ten short, fast, but strong contractions, pulling up and immediately letting go.
  • Do this whole exercise routine at least 4-5 times every day. You can do it in a variety of positions – lying, sitting, standing, walking.

The quality of your exercise is important so concentrate on what you’re doing and remember that fewer good exercises will be more beneficial than many half-hearted ones.

Other ways to help yourself

Exercise can make a huge difference but there are also commercial products that are available and we have a page dedicated to other tips that may help.

Seeking Help

To achieve your best results or if your problems persist despite doing the exercises, you may need to seek help professional help from your GP, a physiotherapist or a specialist continence nurse

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