So you have been told that you need to strengthen your Pelvic Floor. Great!! Now what??
Written by Kerryn Ivers, Exercise Physiologist
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that forms the base of your pelvis and stops all the organs that live in the bottom of your abdomen from falling out. Kind of an important part of your body. They also help to control your bladder and bowel by being able to hold on until you can get to the toilet. Having a role with sexual function as well, it is definitely a group of muscles that you want to be working properly for you!
The good news is that both men and women have a pelvic floor and it can be strengthened with some simple exercises.
How to make it work
We all need to have a good awareness of how it feels for the pelvic floor to contract. Because we can’t see the muscle contract like you can when you use your biceps to bend your arm, sometimes it is difficult to get the right movement. A simple way to find what the contraction feels like is to imagine stopping yourself midstream from urinating. For women, you can also imagine squeezing a bean in your vagina, drawing it up and in. It is NOT drawing in or pushing out your stomach. Neither does it draw your legs together nor lift up your backside up off the bed.
How to train your Pelvic Floor
Once you have found out how to contract your pelvic floor, let’s have a go at a few exercises to help train it to be strong and do the job that it is made for.
1. Different Positions Hold:
- Try contracting your pelvic floor in different positions. First lying on your back with your knees bent, then sitting down, then standing upright.
- Hold the contraction for 3 seconds, progressing up to 5 seconds. Make sure that you can feel a definite ‘let go’ of the muscles when you relax before you try contracting again.
- Keep breathing, don’t hold your breath!
- Repeat this 10 times and do this 3 times through.
2. Powerful squeeze:
- Lift your pelvic floor as strongly and as quickly as possible. Don’t hold, just squeeze and relax.
- Repeat 10 times and do this 3 times through.
- This exercise helps with control when coughing or sneezing.
3. Progressing on:
- Complete contractions while you are walking, lifting and moving in different positions.
Ideally, these exercises should be done daily. And they can be done anywhere!! Cleaning your teeth, watching TV, waiting at the traffic lights, standing in line. Anywhere and in any position!
While practicing using your pelvic floor is extremely important, doing the exercise incorrectly can cause more problems. Additionally, over-doing it can lead to a tight or overactive pelvic floor and is something that we need to be mindful of. If you are having difficulty or are uncertain if you are contracting the right muscles, please don’t hesitate to come see our pelvic health physiotherapist, Julie. She would love to help you find these muscles and get them strong to help you in everyday life.