I am frequently surprised by how little the ladies that I treat know about why they should be doing their Pelvic Floor Exercises and how to do them!
That's Kegel Exercises for you ladies from the USA.
I can't believe that I've never actually written about this on here before.
Every woman should do their Pelvic Floor Exercises twice a day.
One set of 10 fast contractions and one set of the 10 slow contractions.
And if you are pregnant and until 6 months after you finish breastfeeding, you should be doing the above 4 to 6 times a day.
I know, sounds like a lot.
But doing the exercises now, is like putting them in the bank for later.
So that when you are older, and after you have had your baby, you are not leaking urine (or anything else) when you laugh, cough or sneeze...
So ladies, here we go.
Firstly, Where is it?
A sketch of the pelvic floor muscle (shaded) in relation to the bladder, uterus and bowel.
Think of your Pelvic Floor as a figure of eight shape, around your vagina in the front and anus at the back.
Your Pelvic Floor contracts when you laugh, cough, jump or sneeze to stop you from leaking urine at the same time.
When you are pregnant, your Pelvic Floor is weaker due to the hormones that are allowing your uterus and abdominal muscles to stretch, also causing your Pelvic Floor to stretch a little.
Which is why you may wet yourself occasionally during pregnancy (don't worry, it happens to loads of ladies.)
This is why you need to be doing the exercises even more frequently when you are pregnant!
So how do you do them?
Squeeze the muscles around your vagina as if you are stopping urine flow, and at the same time squeeze around back passage as if you are stopping wind. This squeeze should last a second. And the release should take a second too. Repeat 10 times.
As you breathe out...Squeeze muscles around vagina as if you are stopping urine flow, and at the same time squeeze around back passage as if you are stopping wind.
Now hold this muscle contraction as you breathe in and out twice.
Take two breaths at rest.
Repeat this ten times.
If you are not sure if you are doing these correctly, do one to see how it feels, then put your pointer finger in your mouth and suck your finger at the same time as you do this. If the sensation of the pelvic floor muscle activation feels stronger when you are doing this, you are doing it correctly.
We used to recommend that once a day you stopped your urine flow as a test of pelvic floor strength, but research has shown this could be confusing neurological signals between brain and pelvic floor and weakening it.
So DO NOT stop your urine flow as a matter of routine!
But try it once a month perhaps to see if your Pelvic Floor is strong enough to stop your urine mid flow?
You may have been to gym classes where they talk about doing the 'elevator' type of contraction where you lift up a little at a time, you could do this if you want to, if you have already completed your above sets. But I find the above to be the most effective and manageable.
Don't do more than the 10 at a time of each that I have recommended above, unless your Women's Health Physio has advised you to.
As you can over fatigue them.
I could talk for days about why you should do your Pelvic Floor exercises, but I will let you get started on your regime in the mean time...
Please let me know if you have any further questions?