We usually need to experience the symptoms associated with weak pelvic floor muscles – which are annoying at best, and debilitating at worst – before we prioritise these muscles.
The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscles and fascia which forms the floor or the bottom of the bony pelvis. It wraps around the openings of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel and vagina) to control and support them, and can relax and open as needed.
Sometimes likened to a hammock, I like to think of it as like a trampoline which actively responds to increases in pressure within the pelvis and abdomen, supporting our pelvic organs, contributing to continence and forming part of the ‘core’ stability system which protects our back.
As a voluntary muscle, it can be strengthened and thickened with exercise, and thinned and weakened by disuse or injury.
1. Ensure you are doing a correct and optimal exercise technique. If unsure, see a Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist. You can research and locate someone in your area here.
2. Try the ‘Stop the Flow” test. Stop the flow of urine midstream but NOT first thing in the morning when you have a full bladder and strong flow, only once per wee, and make sure you can start again to finish passing your urine. This is only a test, and should not be done more than once per week. It is not always an indication of your pelvic floor muscle strength, but provides awareness of the muscles for some people.
3. Set aside some time each day to do your exercises. You will need to focus to do a correct contraction at first, so traffic lights may not be safe! Some women do their exercises at a toilet stop after a wee – when wiping, while sitting, while standing, and walking to wash their hands. Those who persist are those who will succeed!
4. Don’t try too hard. It is important to localise your exercise to the muscles around your vagina and urethra. Your neck, eyebrows, chest and upper abdominals are not attached to the pelvic floor and will waste your valuable energy – keep breathing!
5. Use at at-home biofeedback device. This can help you to practice and monitor the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and any improvements from your kegal exercises.
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Do you have a different tip or particular kegal exercise that you can share? Leave it in the comment section below for other women to read.
P.S. Do you have a friend that needs to know these tips to help manage the health of their pelvic floor? Share it with them now via the big share buttons below!
Since graduating in 1971, Annette Innis has enjoyed working as a physiotherapist in several areas of clinical interest. Her interest in Women’s Health began early, with highlights being her first Pelvic Floor Course in 1983, University of South Australia Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health (1994), and being awarded the Australian Physiotherapist Association Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist (2011). She has supported her professional association at a state and national level on committees (including a term as APA SA Branch President) for more than 20 years.
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