Pelvic Floor Exercise

The floor of the pelvis is made up of muscles, tissue and ligaments that form a sling. These go all the way from the front pubic bone to the bottom of the spine in your lower back. It does have elasticity and can stretch and go back as needed. Sometimes after pregnancy or later in life, these muscles can become overstretched and weakened.

Pelvic floor exercise can help keep the muscles in your lower pelvis strong. You may have hear these called “Kegel Exercises.” Many women and even men experience urine leaking and pelvic floor weakness. Doing these exercises daily can help relieve the symptoms of these issues and even improve sexual response.

Why Is It Important to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?

Doing pelvic floor exercise can help you tone your lower pelvic floor muscles. This group of muscles helps to hold up the uterus, bowel, and bladder. They also help control what th
ese organs do. When they are weakened, they have to work harder to hold the bladder sphincter closed and you may leak some urine at times. You may also notice urine leaking with you laugh, cough or sneeze. Women may notice less sensation during sexual intercourse.

Pelvic floor exercises should be done your whole life. After you go through menopause, there are less hormones to help keep those muscles working properly. Women may experience either uterine or bladder prolapse during this time. These exercises can prevent this from happening.

During pregnancy, pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen the pelvic muscles for an easier delivery. The muscles tend to become stretched around the 12th week of pregnancy and continue to stretch as the baby grows. Getting them stronger early on will also help your recovery after the baby is born.

Pelvic Floor Exercises to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

Before we look at the different exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, it is important to know which muscle group you are exercising. The pelvic floor muscles are the group of muscles that help you hold your urine and bowel movements. You unconsciously use them every day when you need to go to the bathroom, but are not yet sitting on the toilet.

Here is a good way to know exactly where they are:

1)   Sit down on the toilet. Close the muscles to the anus as if you were trying to hold in gas. You will feel the muscles clinch together. Try not to move your legs or bottom while doing this. These muscles are near the back of the pelvis.

2)   While you’re still sitting on the toilet, think about when you are passing urine. Now squeeze the muscles that you use to hold your urine to stop the stream. These are a different group of muscles than when you hold your bowel movements. They are close to the front of the pelvis and the ones you need to strengthen.

Here are some different types of pelvic floor exercise:

1.    Strengthening Long Hold

With this exercise you can either sit, stand or lie flat. Like we discussed above, hold the front muscles as if you were stopping urine flow. Squeeze them together tight and hold for a count of 3 to 5 seconds and release. As you draw the muscles together, you will be feeling the muscles in the pelvic floor squeeze together and upwards. As you release them, you will feel the pelvic floor relax. Work up to holding this for up to 10 seconds if you can. Take a little rest between squeezes and repeat up to 10 times.

2.    Power Quick Squeeze

This exercise can help tone the pelvic floor muscles to deal with sneezing, laughing and coughing so you don’t leak urine. This is easiest done sitting in a chair, you can also do them while driving, or watching TV. Squeeze your front pelvic muscles together, hold one second and release. Rest for a second in between and repeat up to 10 times. Teaching your pelvic floor muscles to contract with this exercise will help you use them unconsciously when something like a sneeze catches you by surprise.

For more details and instructions on pelvic floor exercises:

How Often Should Pelvic Floor Exercises Be Done?

The good thing about pelvic floor exercises is they can be done often without tiring you out. For best results, you should try to get in a set of 10 Long Holds and a set of 10 Power Quick Squeezes 6 times every day.

Start out holding your muscles for just 1 to 2 seconds. Work your way up to 10 second holds and work your way up. Rest the muscles for as long as you hold them. If you squeeze for 5 seconds, rest for 5 seconds.

Note of Caution

If you are using these exercises to stop urine from leaking, understand that at first the condition can worsen. If you are doing too many pelvic floor exercises because you feel that more is better, it’s not. You can cause the muscles to get tired and leak more at first.

You should never feel muscle strain in your back or lower abdomen. If this happens you could be exercising the wrong muscles. You need to relax and only tighten the muscles that start and stop your pee.

Tips for Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises

If you are doing these exercises the right way and daily, you will notice improvement in about 2 to 4 months. It is recommended to do them for 6 months or even longer. Here are some helpful tips:

  • During pregnancy. You will want to improve the strength of these muscles for the birthing process. Do the strengthening exercise and add in the power squeeze later in pregnancy.
  • New moms. These are very helpful to tone the pelvic floor muscles after childbirth. Give yourself at least 3 days before you start these exercises. You will need some time to get the feeling back in your pelvic area. Do the long holds to strengthen the muscles.
  • Use the right position. Start by lying down or sit in a comfortable chair. This will help you get used to how the exercise feels. After you get good at it, you can do it in any position, anywhere!
  • Only use pelvic floor muscles. It is ineffective to use the abdominal, buttock, or upper leg muscles for this exercise. Also, remember to breathe.

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