The Hows and Why's of Pelvic Floor Exercise January 26 2015
The Pelvic Floor
All women should perform pelvic floor exercises regularly, but it’s particularly important both during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Strong pelvic floor muscles can aid in childbirth, and also prevent or minimize embarrassing leaks when laughing, coughing, sneezing or lifting (stress incontinence is a billion dollar industry!). Pelvic floor exercises are also known as kegels, so if you’ve heard that name and wondered what it meant, now you know!
Your pelvic floor is made up of a sling of 3 muscles that connect the pubic bone at the front to the ‘sitting bones’ at the side and the tailbone at the back. This serves as a support structure for the contents of the abdomen and pelvis, including the bowel, uterus, and bladder. The extra weight of your growing baby makes these muscles work even harder and keeping them strong can help prevent incontinence and prolapse, and also aid in the birthing process. For these reasons pelvic floor exercises should be started as early as possible in the pregnancy.
Learning to isolate and contract your pelvic floor muscles is easy. Imagine urinating and stopping in mid flow and it will be these muscles doing the work. Aim to do it without clenching your bum if possible as this brings in another set of muscles entirely. It is important though that you don’t actually do your pelvic floor exercises whilst urinating, as this can lead to problems like bladder infections.
The great thing about pelvic floor exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time, as only you know
you are doing them. The difficult thing is sometimes remembering to do them. To help with this try to associate them with different activities such as ironing, cooking, driving, or even having sex. After a while you’ll find yourself doing them automatically when performing these activities. They should also be performed every day, several times if possible. At first you may find it difficult and tire easily, but strength and muscle control should increase rapidly.
Squeeze and Hold
Squeeze/contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 5 seconds. (Aim to build this to 10 seconds over a short period of time). Relax and rest for 10 seconds. Do 10 reps, several times a day.
The pelvic floor is made up of 2 different types of muscle fibres. Some respond to quick contractions and some to slow. This exercise is for the ‘quick’ fibres. Contract and lift the pelvic floor muscles as quickly and strongly as possible and let go. Gradually increase the speed of the contraction and the number of repetitions until the muscle tires. When the muscles are fatigued wait a few seconds to recover and start again. Aim to do this 10 times and repeat several times a day.
Try and visualise your midsection as a lift, then draw your pelvic floor upwards to the first floor and hold for 3 seconds. Breathing gently but without releasing the contraction, draw upwards to the second floor and hold for a further 3 seconds, then to the third floor for 3 seconds. Release and repeat several times a day.
Learning to relax your pelvic floor is very important too, so aim to relax the muscles slowly and under control during the exercises (except the speedums). This will help you during the birthing process. Performing these exercises whilst sitting on your birth ball will result in a stronger contraction.
Written by Mark Hibbitts and Martin Beckley personal fitness coaches specializing in pregnancy & postnatal exercise. Authors of The Birthball Handbook available from www.themiraclebox.co.uk at £9.99 including access to online Pelvic Floor DVD.
Pelvic Floor Exercises, are they essential? June 27 2014
Don't ignore your pelvic floor muscles! You may not be able to see them, or you are not entirely sure where they are, however your pelvic floor is one of the most important muscles in your body and rarely get the attention they deserve. This set of muscles at the base of your pelvis that supports your uterus, bladder and bowel - effectively keeps them all in place. These sling-like muscles also have a big role to play during sex - a weakened pelvic floor can affect your ability to have an orgasm.
"Doctors recommend pelvic floor exercises as the preferred primary treatment for stress incontinence with 70% - 80% cure or improvement rates reported" Royal College of Physicians, 1995
Your pelvic floor goes through a tremendous amount of strain during pregnancy, especially with the added weight of your growing baby applying further pressure making it harder and harder for the muscles to do there job. The muscles can then become stretched and weak because of the continual weight. Childbirth then compounds this and, unfortunately, can do some damage - with nearly a third of women developing some level of stress incontinence after they have given birth. 4 out of every 10 women suffer from these problems. Many worry, few talk about it, and lots quietly suffer, not knowing how to solve their embarrassment. Don't be one of the statistics! of Stress Incontinence
It is very important that you do your Pelvic Floor Exercises. This will then help give your pelvic floor muscles a fighting chance of being able to do their job after the stresses and strains of pregnancy and labour.
When should I start doing pelvic floor exercises?
Start Now! Every woman, pregnant or not, can benefit from exercising their pelvic floor muscles. Keeping your pelvic floor fit and healthy like any other muscle can help you have a satisfying sex life and can ward off problems in the future such as:
- 'Accidents' when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise?
- Embarrassing situations in social environments?
It can also help you when giving birth as strong pelvic muscles can help you during the second stage of labour when you need to push your baby out. They can also help you heal if you experience a perineal tear during birth.
What are pelvic floor exercises?
Simple, have you done pilates and yoga, if so, you are probably familiar with your pelvic floor muscles. If not, they are the muscles you use when you try not to urinate, so when you next have a wee try and stop mid-flow and there you have it - your pelvic floor muscles in action!
How often should I exercise my pelvic floor?
Pelvic floor exercises can be done anytime, anywhere without anyone noticing, try to do them as often as you can. Don't overdo it and make sure you know how to relax the muscles as well as tighten them as this can help during the second stage of labour where relaxing the muscles around your vagina may help you to avoid damaging your perineum.
Every woman should aim to make pelvic floor exercises a regular activity to maintain a healthy and fully functioning pelvic area.
What will happen if I don't exercise my pelvic floor muscles?
Possible problems can be stress incontinence, reduced sensitivity during sex, uterine and vaginal prolapse etc.
At The Miracle Box we have a two great products to help with Pelvic Floor Exercises. The Miracle Box Complete Birth Ball Package and The Miracle Box for Women - DVD to help discover the easy way to locate, isolate and exercise your pelvic floor and core muscles, putting you back in control and at less risk of prolapse, stress incontinence, sexual problems and other unpleasant symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.