Strengthening the Pelvic Floor
What is the pelvic floor?
Layers of muscle stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone in the front to the end of the backbone. These firm, supportive muscles are called the pelvic floor and they hold the bladder and bowel, as well as the uterus in women in place. Certain conditions may cause the pelvic muscles to weaken.
How does the pelvic floor work?
How can pelvic floor exercise help?
Learning to do Pelvic Floor Exercises
How to “Feel” the Muscles of the Pelvic Floor
It is important to learn how to feel the muscles of the pelvic floor as you contract them to be sure that you are exercising correctly.
Here are ways to identify the muscles:
How to do the Kegel Exercises
- Lying on the floor or bed, breathe deeply (don’t hold your breath) and tighten the anal muscle, pulling inward and upward. This should feel like you are trying to hold back urine or gas.
- Hold these muscles for a count of 10.
- Slowly release these muscles and relax for a count of 10. Repeat the cycle again.
- Do five to 10 quick, strong contractions after you are finished doing the slow contractions. These exercises may help you prevent an accident by quickly stopping urine leaks.
A Few Simple Rules to Remember
- Do them properly. Check often to be sure that you are using the correct muscles.
- Do them regularly in sets of five to 10 contractions at a time in the morning, at noon, in late afternoon and before going to bed. After three or four weeks, increase the number of contractions in each set and hold each one longer, up to the count of 10. When you can comfortably hold the contractions for 10 seconds, you might consider gradually increasing the length up to 20 seconds.
- Do them intelligently. Learn to use the muscles when you need them the most, especially during times of stress, excitement, or when you feel you need better bladder control. Keep on doing them. Muscles work best when they are exercised. Once you have learned how to improve your bladder control, continue to do the exercises to keep the pelvic hammock in good shape.
- Watch your weight. Keeping yourself fit also means staying at your best weight.
- Drink plenty of fluids, six to eight glasses of water every day. And don’t fall back into the habit of going to the toilet “just in case”. Go only when you feel the need to pass urine.
- Do not stop doing Kegel exercises until you have talked to your caregiver. Kegel exercises may be useful for the rest of your life.
- Tighten your pelvic muscles before sneezing, coughing or lifting to prevent urine leakage.