Exercise 1 : Building Strength
So you can hold on longer : Breathe in and as you breathe out (as if blowing out a candle or misting your glasses to clean them – long and slow) close the muscles around your anus, vagina and urethra as if trying to stop passing wind and urine at the same time then lift your anus towards your pubic bone.
It is a close or squeeze and lift action.
See the video for visual instruction.
* It is very easy to cheat – especially if the muscles are weak .
What NOT to do
Do not suck your tummy in
Do not squeeze your thighs or buttocks together
Do not hold your breath. These bigger muscles will override and take over from your pelvic floor if you let them.
Do not try too hard
How many seconds can you hold the pelvic floor squeeze and lift without cheating or using the DO NOTs ? If you feel these other muscles tightening, you are trying too hard , try more gently.
It is better to do a more gentle contraction correctly than a harder one using the wrong muscles.
HOLD Build up to a maximum of 10 seconds for each pelvic floor (or kegel) exercise
REST for 5-10 seconds
REPEAT up to 10 times
Try to do these exercises in a slow and controlled way. Practise your maximum number of held contractions (up to 10) in sets of 3 once a day. It may take a few weeks to build up to 3 sets.
Don't do random exercises at the traffic lights or whilst brushing your teeth, you don't strengthen any other muscle group that way.
You can practise some quick contractions throughout the day in conjunction with activities that require a pelvic floor contraction such as coughing and sneezing. See the next exercise......
Exercise 2: Buildng Speed
The ability to work these muscles quickly helps them react to sudden stresses from coughing, laughing or exercise. Practise some quick contractions, squeeze and lift the pelvic floor quickly holding for just a few seconds before releasing.
FAST SQUEEZES x5
Try to do one set of slow contractions (exercise 1) followed by one set of quick contractions (exercise 2)
Exercise 3: Building Endurance
A strong pelvic floor will help you out under starin eg a cough , sneeze or lift. You need endurance in your pelvic floor muscles for the rest of the day.
The ideal way to achieve this is using some pelvic floor weights or cones for a short time each day or every couple of days. These are not heavy, but they help you to keep the pelvic floor muscles switched on a little bit which will build endurance. 10-20 minutes per session is all you need.
There is no need to wear them for hours, in fact that can have a detrimental effect on your pelvic floor.
Exercise 4: Functional Use of Your Pelvic Floor
or in other words using it when it is most needed. Your pelvic floor should contract and tighten to protect against increases in abdominal pressure – when you cough, sneeze, jump or lift . If they don’t come in quickly or strongly enough, the pressure pushing down overcomes the pressure holding around your urethra and the end result can be a leak. Remind them to work ….tighten, hold cough….tighten,hold lift …. Tighten, hold stand up etc.
How hard you need to hold depends on the downward force. A sneeze creates more force than a cough which creates more force than standing up.
Use enough force to counteract or balance it.
Exercise 5: Relax It
Pointless tightening it if you don’t relax it - if you do quads exercises at the gym you relax the muscles in between reps – do the same with your pelvic floor muscles.
Do not reinforce bad habits or poor technique - you wouldn’t stand for this with your pec or quad exercises so why stand for it with your pelvic floor or kegel exercises?
General relaxation and stretching is also good for your pelvic floor. Yoga and breathing exercises can be very helpful to relax the pelvic flor and co-ordinate its use with your breathing and diaphragm.
Poses that can help (if you are able to do them or modify them) :
- child's pose with knees apart
- happy baby
- deep squat
- belly breathing in crook lying
How to achieve better results with your pelvic floor exercises
There is a growing amount of research showing many women achieve better results when they use pelvic floor exercise devices to assist them in doing pelvic floor exercises.
Dr Kegel, the originator of the kegel exercise program, never intended his exercises to be conducted on an empty vagina. He developed an exercising product similar to the perineometers (eg PFX2 and Pelvic Floor Educator ) in use today. Somewhere along the line, his message has been lost and for many years women have been encouraged to try unassisted exercising.
For many women, this presents difficulties and they may be able to achieve better results with the assistance of a pelvic floor exercise or strengthening device. Read more about the value of using a pelvic floor exercise or strengthening device.
Many good pelvic floor exercisers have been available for sometime but are often hard to track down, particularly for women who want to exercise independently at home. Pelvic Floor Exercise brings together a range of the best devices available on the Australian market, to make choosing and buying easier. Browse through our unique product range.
Why are some people not successful with pelvic floor muscle training?
Often because they don't exercise often enough, and for long enough.
People report that :
- they don't remember
- they find it hard to fit exercises into daily life
- they feel uncertain about whether the exercises are working
- they don't know if they are doing them correctly, particularly in the early stages.
The use of devices can help address some of these problems and encourage you to continue your pelvic floor fitness and strengthening regimes.
Most importantly many women find that using a pelvic floor exercise device produces better results than unassisted exercising, so they are encouraged to keep going.
Maintaining your own motivation is half the battle with home-based exercising. Exercise devices can help to maintain that all-important motivation.
Pelvic floor muscle or nerve damage
This is one of the less common reasons that people fail with pelvic floor muscle training. There may be an injury especially from vaginal childbirth.
If you have been training hard with no result , ensure you see a women's health physio or your gynecologist for a full check up. Even if there has been some damage, it can often improve with time ( eg peripheral nerve neuropraxia from nerve stretching during birth will take months to heal) and if there has been an avulsion ( pelvic floor muscle deatching from bony attachment ) you can make the most of the muscle that is stil functioning. Again see a women's health physio for individual help if this is suspected.
The material presented in this information sheet is intended as an information source only. The information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters presented herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of the advice of a health care provider. Pelvic Floor Exercise does not accept liability to any person for the information or advice provided , or for loss or damages incurred as a result of reliance upon the material contained herein.
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