How to do your Pelvic Floor or Kegel exercises correctly
Pelvic floor? What is it and why do all women need to know about it?
I’m already confused… what exactly ARE THEY?
The pelvic floor muscles are those that sit between the pubic bone and the tailbone. The muscles that sling around the passageways (urethra, vagina and rectum) and help to keep us continent.
The pelvic floor is responsible for controlling the opening and closing of the passageways, so that we can control continence by deciding when we want to open our bladders and bowels.
They also help to support the pelvic organs and prevent prolapse.
To activate these muscles try the following cues
- Imagine stopping the flow of urine
- Try to hold in wind
- Visualise squeezing and holding a tampon in
When you are trying to activate them make sure you aren’t…
- holding your breath
- squeezing your butt cheeks/legs/tummy muscles
- straining or bearing down
When you’re doing a pelvic floor contraction, it should be a secret!
No-one should be able to SEE that you’re doing it.
So no breath holding, butt squeezing or face grimacing!
Practice next time you are talking to someone and see if you can keep a conversation flowing whilst simultaneously practicing these Kegel contractions.. without them knowing!
How’s that for multitasking?
Where should I get started?
A good way to start is squeeze and hold your pelvic floor for 5 seconds, relax for 5 seconds and then repeat for 5 sets.
You can also try “quick flicks” where you contract then relax your muscle 15 times as quickly as you can. Remember to relax completely in between each contraction!
Try these exercises 2-3 times per day.
How will I remember to do them?
Try to do them when you’re…
- stopped at the traffic lights
- finished on the toilet
- in the shower
- talking on the phone
- lying in bed
- put a dot on your left hand and squeeze your pelvic floor every time you see it
If you are still struggling… download an app that will remind you!
There are plenty of options out there but I personally love the Squeezy app!
The evidence tells us that pelvic floor strengthening is a successful treatment to manage these conditions.
So let’s spread the word and get started today!
Tell your girlfriends, sisters, mothers all about it and start strengthening these muscles!
As an extra bonus, pelvic floor strength has been shown to reduce the time spent in second stage of labour, aid recovery in the post-natal period and improve sexual function.
If you ever needed an excuse to start your pelvic floor exercises then there it is!
Still scratching your head?
Common questions that I’m asked…
How do you know if you have a weak pelvic floor?
You may notice symptoms of:
- Bladder leakage when coughing or jumping
- You can’t hold on to your bladder for as long as you used to be able to
- Faecal urgency (you need to poo… and you need to poo NOW!)
- Heaviness or bulging in the vagina (prolapse)
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
- Reduced sexual sensation
What causes a weak pelvic floor?
Any activity that increases intra-abdominal pressure and overloads the pelvic floor muscles can potentially be a risk factor for pelvic floor weakness or dysfunction. Common risk factors are:
- Chronic constipation and straining on the toilet
- Heavy lifting
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
How do you know if you are doing pelvic floor exercises properly?
You should feel a gentle upward lift and squeeze around the vaginal and anal passages and that’s about it. It should be a secret! No-one should be able to see what you are doing, so you shouldn’t be sucking your tummy in or squeezing your bottom.
Can pelvic floor exercises help a prolapse?
Yes they absolutely can! A prolapse occurs when the support structures surrounding the pelvic organs are stretched or strained. Strengthening your pelvic floor can improve the support around your pelvic organs and reduce your symptoms of prolapse.
How often should I be doing my pelvic floor exercises?
On average, most women should be doing pelvic floor exercises 3 times per day. Pelvic floor exercises are quite simple and straight-forward and should take you less than 10 minutes each day!
Have fun and start squeezing right now!
xo Physio Laura