Activating your pelvic floor
What are pelvic floor exercises, how do you do them correctly and how often? We spoke with Continence Foundation of Australia member, Brisbane physiotherapist Sue Croft who offered this advice.
How often should I do my pelvic floor exercises?
In the Laugh Without Leaking video series, we are emphasising the importance of establishing a habit with your pelvic floor exercises. Performing them around 30 times per day will help with this.
You should lift and squeeze when doing a pelvic floor contraction. It is important to concentrate on relaxed breathing while you do the exercises and to work on the endurance (or length of hold) of the muscles.
To help you with improving stress urinary incontinence (the type of leakage that occurs with coughing and sneezing), it is important to learn the knack – that is, contracting your pelvic floor muscles before and during the increase in intra-abdominal pressure that occurs during activities such as lifting or coughing.
Are there any precautions about starting a program of pelvic floor exercises myself without supervision?
Firstly, if you have any pelvic pain or difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel, it is important to have a consultation with a health professional that’s knowledgeable in examining your muscles internally (such as a pelvic health physiotherapist) before you embark on an exercise program.
This is because your pelvic floor muscles may be overactive. In this situation, doing too many pelvic floor exercises can increase existing pelvic pain or make emptying your bladder or bowel more difficult.
How long do I have to do these exercises for? A few weeks? A few months?
These exercises are ones we must do for life. We pass through different life stages, with hormonal changes and the effects of ageing taking their toll on our continence state – whether we are having urinary leakage episodes or not.
It is this lifetime adherence that most of us have trouble with. It is a lot like cleaning your teeth or moisturising your face. You would not only do that for six months and then stop. You do that twice daily as a habit and that’s what we are trying to establish for you now with pelvic floor exercises.
Reproduced with permission from Pelvic Floor Essentials (Edition 3, 2018) by Sue Croft