A Guide To Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises
A strong pelvic floor – especially before, during and after pregnancy – is important to prevent incontinence at any stage of life. According to the NHS, pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and bottom and regularly doing them can also help to treat symptoms of prolapse and even improve your sex life!
When should I do pelvic floor exercises?
Anytime! But, if you find that you’re struggling to hold it in when you need the toilet, or if you’re experiencing urine leakage at any time, then it’s definitely worth taking some action to strengthen your pelvic floor.
If you’re expecting or have recently given birth, your midwife or health visitor should be able to advise you on how to address signs of any weakness in your pelvic floor and you should quickly notice an improvement if you do them as instructed. If it seems more serious or the situation isn’t getting better with exercise, contact your GP and ask for a referral to an obstetric physiotherapist, who will examine you and assess how best to regain the strength in your pelvic floor.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
- Lie, sit or stand with your knees slightly apart
- Tighten your back passage (as if trying to stop passing wind)
- Tighten your front muscles (as if trying to stop passing urine)
- You should feel a ‘squeeze-lift’ motion from your back passage toward your pubic bone
- Fully release and then squeeze again
- Repeat 5 times
- Do as many repetitions of 5 as you can – little and often is always best
- Build up the number of repetitions you do as your muscle gets strong and you find them easier to do
Once you are able to do your pelvic floor exercises with ease, you can move onto the following regime:
- Long squeezes: tighten and hold for 10 seconds, relax for 5 seconds and then repeat – build up to 10 holds for 10 seconds/ relax for 5 seconds
- Short squeezes: tighten and hold for 1 second, relax for 1 second and then repeat – build up to 10 holds for 1 second/relax for 1 second
Once you have mastered these aim to do 3 lots of long squeezes and 3 lots of short squeezes at least 3 times a day, or if you prefer 1 set of 10 long squeezes followed by 1 set of 10 short squeezes repeated at least 3 times a day.
Top tips for doing pelvic floor exercises
If you don’t get the hang of it straight away, don’t worry, it’s easy to use the wrong muscles when you first start. Follow our tips below and you’ll have the hang of it in no time!
- If you feel like you are bearing down (like you need to have your bowels open), hold your breath, squeeze your legs together and/ or clench your buttocks your exercises won’t work
- If you are finding it hard to locate your pelvic floor muscles seek help from a health professional
- Don’t try to find your pelvic floor muscles by regularly stopping and starting the flow of urine while urinating as this can damage your bladder
- Once you’ve mastered it, you can do them anywhere! Traffic lights, washing up, brushing your teeth, or feeding your baby
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