How many pelvic floor exercises do you need to do to get your pelvic floor strong?
It’s often confusing to know how many pelvic floor exercises you need to do on a daily basis.
Doing the right amount of pelvic floor exercise is vital for getting the best results.
How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises
A. Beginners Guide
When starting out, you need to do what you can manage comfortably, even if it’s 1-2 exercises in a row, 3 times daily.
Start out using the correct pelvic floor exercise technique.
1. Gently lift and squeeze (contract) your pelvic floor muscles
2. Hold your gentle contraction for up to 10 seconds*
3. Relax your pelvic floor muscles back to resting
4. Rest and recover for at least 10 seconds before repeating your next exercise
5. Do that number of exercises that you can comfortably manage (no more than 12 in a row)
6. Repeat this routine 1-3 times today (and everyday)
Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout
AUDIO CD OR DOWNLOAD NOW
Strengthen your pelvic floor with this daily Kegel exercises routine.
This evidence-based pelvic floor exercise workout guides you step by step.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway
Track 1 – Introduction to Successful Strengthening
Track 2 – Finding your Pelvic Floor
Track 3 – Feeling your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Track 4 – Using the Correct Pelvic Floor Exercise Technique
Track 5 – Beginners Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout
Track 6 – Intermediate Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout
Track 7 – Progressing and Maintaining your Strength
When you’re starting out you may find that you can only contract your pelvic floor muscles for 1-2 seconds before the feeling fades away.
Try not to feel too discouraged as this often happens with pelvic floor weakness or when first starting out.
If you’re unsure make an appointment to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to help you get your exercises right.
B. Intermediate Guide
For best results, progress to this intermediate routine when you’re managing the beginners routine really well.
1. Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles using moderate strength
2. Hold each contraction for 3-10 seconds
3. Relax your pelvic floor muscles back to resting level
4. Rest briefly until your pelvic floor muscles recover (up to 10 seconds)
5. Repeat 8-12 pelvic floor exercises in a row
6. Do this routine up to 3 times today for a total of 24-36 exercises/day
How Pelvic Floor Muscles Get Stronger
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles is just like strengthening any other group of muscles in your body.
Your pelvic floor muscles are made up of thousands of tiny muscle cells also known as muscle fibres (shown right)
Pelvic floor muscles get stronger when:
- Pelvic floor muscle cells grow larger
- Pelvic floor muscle cells work together
Doing the right number of pelvic floor exercises encourages both of these things to happen so that you can .
How do Strong Pelvic Floor Muscles Help?
Strong pelvic floor muscles help you:
- Support your insides (bladder, vagina, uterus, urethra or urine tube and rectum)
- Resist downward pressure on your pelvic floor (and your prolapse)
- Control and store your bladder and bowel contents
- Improve sensation during sexual intercourse
- Stabilise (hold together) the bones of your spine and pelvis.
Too Many Pelvic Floor Exercises?
In the early 20th Century when Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) were first introduced, women were originally advised to do hundreds of Kegels daily.
We now know from scientific research that this advice to was incorrect.
AVOID too Many Kegels
We’re usually led to believe that ‘more exercise is better’ however when it comes to pelvic floor strengthening more is not always better.
Too Many Kegels can Cause Problems Including:
1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Fatigue (Overtired)
Imagine doing hundreds of biceps curls (arm strength exercises) in the gym. By the end of the day you’ll have a hard time lifting anything. The same holds true for the pelvic floor muscles.
Doing too many pelvic floor exercises makes your pelvic floor muscles overtired so they don’t work well. This is one reason why giving your pelvic floor muscles a break is so important. Resting your pelvic floor muscles allows them to recover so they’re ready for your next pelvic floor workout.
2. Worsening Pelvic Floor Symptoms
When your pelvic floor muscles are overtired, your pelvic floor symptoms can become worse.
Symptoms that you’re doing too much pelvic floor exercise can include:
- Becoming unable to contract your pelvic floor muscles
- Worsening prolapse symptoms e.g. dragging and bulging
- Worsening bladder or bowel control e.g. bladder leakage
- Pelvic pain or deep pelvic ache
3. Risk of Pelvic Floor Damage
When your pelvic floor muscles become overtired, they get weaker and can’t do their regular job of supporting and protecting your pelvic organs.
This is one reason why pelvic floor muscle over training can increase your risk of damage such as pelvic organ prolapse or prolapse worsening.
4. Pelvic Floor Spasm and Pelvic Pain
If your pelvic floor muscles aren’t given the chance to relax, they can develop pelvic floor spasm.
Pelvic floor spasm is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are tight, short, inflexible and painful.
You could be easily forgiven for thinking that having tight pelvic floor muscles sounds good.
Unfortunately the opposite is true. When pelvic floor muscles become tight and short the pelvic floor becomes weaker and more prone to injury.
Treatment techniques often include pelvic floor relaxation training.
Your pelvic floor muscles shouldn’t be too tight (or too loose). You want them ‘just right’ which means resting and relaxing rather than contracting them all the time.
Key Points For How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises
These guidelines for how many pelvic floor exercises to do will help you strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Start with the beginners guide and progress to the intermediate guide when you’re ready
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles when you exercise them, then allow them to relax, rest and recover
- Beginners aim for how many pelvic floor exercises you can manage with the right technique i.e. up to 30 exercises daily
- Intermediate aim to do 24-36 moderate strength pelvic floor exercises daily.
Try to do your pelvic floor exercises every day
Try NOT to be too hard on yourself if you miss your workout!
Further Reading & Related Videos
1 Bø, K. (2007). Evidence-based physical therapy for the pelvic floor: Bridging science and clinical practice. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.