Pelvic floor exercises: the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’

Thanks to more and more newspapers speaking about pelvic floor exercises, awareness is now growing that women can fix their pelvic floor issues. But Kegel exercises are not the only pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises that exist.

New modern pelvic floor assessment techniques (like women’s health assessment or Mummy MOT) and new pelvic floor exercises based on hypopressive gymnastic, have proved to be more efficient and to target more precise areas of the pelvic floor.

Raising awareness in women is very important to us as many women have to live with the consequences of a weak pelvic floor, not knowing that it can be fixed with only few physio sessions with a women’s health physiotherapist.

What are the most common misconceptions about the pelvic floor?

There are a few myths regarding pelvic floor and pelvic health which people should definitely not follow:

Learn to contract your pelvic floor, not your abs

Don’t contract your abs to contract your pelvic floor (if you squeeze them, you are pushing on your pelvic floor instead of pulling it up)

“Pee stop” to train your pelvic floor is wrong

Training your pelvic floor by stopping peeing mid flow is a big no: this is very bad as it can lead to infection and you need to push to start urinating again.

Understanding your pelvic floor: when you are not pregnant, you need a strong pelvic floor, when you give birth you need to know how to relax it

You don’t need a very strong pelvic floor before giving birth. On the contrary, you need a relaxed one if you want to avoid episiotomy or vaginal tearing. Prenatal physiotherapy actually helps mothers avoid that kind of trauma.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation is not taboo!! Speak about it with who you are the most comfortable with and stop suffering in silence… there are easy & efficient treatments

The pelvic floor is an intimate part of the body and problems related to it are still taboo. Some women still have trouble talking to their GP or even their friends. The pelvic floor is an important part of your body and your GP will be happy to help you with any of your concerns. And talk to your friends about it: pretty sure that also have some issues!

Can I do my pelvic floor exercises by myself at home?

To some extend you can, some simple exercises can work well and can be done when you sit, stand or run. It is definitely better to do simple pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises than not doing any pelvic exercises at all.

But the pelvic floor is a difficult muscle to contract by itself, so without a professional making you feel the correct contractions,  it is usually difficult for women to isolate the correct muscles that they need to squeeze as you will probably squeeze only the strongest one, and not the other pelvic floor muscles. Don’t forget that there are many different muscles in your pelvic floor and you cannot check yourself if you’re squeezing your abs at the same time (remember: if you squeeze abs at the same time, you will push down your bladder instead of pulling it up).

So, doing exercises by yourself is great if you already know what to squeeze and how to do it but in order to be safe, we would advise you to first doing an assessment with a professional.

Is it necessary to do a range of different exercises to keep the pelvic floor in shape?

Yes. Every exercise will stimulate different muscles in your pelvic floor, which can have a different function: pelvic floor automatism when coughing, holding urine to avoid urine leakage when jumping, holding gas, squeeze longer to inhibit urgency, improve orgasms, squeeze your transverse abdominal muscle to protect your pelvic floor when lifting…

You need to squeeze different muscles (pelvic floor, glut, transverse mainly) with different strength (strong or lightly) and during different times (2 to 12 sec). If you only do one sort of exercises, you will work on one thing and not on everything.

Is there any tips to help women stay committed to doing these exercises?

You will need a routine and consistency.

For instance, every time you brush your teeth, squeeze your anterior pelvic floor as if you want to hold urine for 10 seconds (this is not the pee stop, this is the same type of exercises but it shouldn’t be done while you are emptying your bladder).

Or every time you are waiting for a bus, contract and squeeze like you want to hold wind.

And squeeze your transverse muscles (the one you squeeze when you pull tummy up), when you go for a run or when you cough.

You don’t need to do 20 minutes of pelvic floor exercises every day – 5minutes a day is enough! But doing you pelvic floor exercises is the key of your success.

And the top tip is: if you contract your transverse muscles regularly, you will have a flatter stomach by this summer!

For more information about pelvic floor rehabilitation: Click here

If you wish for more information on pelvic floor rehabilitation or wish to book a women’s health assessment at home or in our women’s health physiotherapist‘s practices in London (Monument, Belgravia, Clapham): 0207 125 0262 / 0782 455 3765

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