How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises You Need To Do Today For A Strong Pelvic Floor

How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises?

How many pelvic floor exercises do you need to do right now?

It’s often confusing to know how many pelvic floor exercises you need to strengthen your pelvic floor.

Doing the right amount of pelvic floor exercise is vital for getting the best results.

 

 

Here’s professional help to get you started now:

  • How do pelvic floor muscles get stronger?
  • How do strong pelvic floor muscles help you?
  • How many pelvic floor exercises do you need to do today?

              » Beginners Physical Therapist guide (starting out)
              » Intermediate Physical Therapist guide (progressing)

  • Why it’s important to do the right number of pelvic floor exercises
  • Can you do too many pelvic floor exercises?
  • Why you MUST avoid doing too many Kegels

How Do Pelvic Floor Muscles Get Stronger?

Muscle Cells

 

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 You?

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.

How Many Pelvic Floor Exercises A Day?

A. Beginners Guide

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)

*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 about your technique or needing motivation, the Pelvic Floor Daily Workout CD (shown left) guides you step by step through technique and motivating workouts for beginners and intermediate levels.

Also available for convenient download now to your mobile device.

 

Alternatively make an appointment to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to help you get your exercises right from the start.

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

Why It’s Important To Do The Right Number Of Daily Pelvic Floor Exercises

Strengthening your pelvic floor is just like strength training in the gym.

You need to do the right amount of exercise to stimulate your muscles to get bigger and stronger.

If you’re not doing enough quality pelvic floor exercise you won’t stimulate your pelvic floor muscles to grow and work well together.

Quality research confirms that women need to do a specific amount of pelvic floor exercise to improve the strength of our pelvic floor muscles and get results that make a real difference.1

Can You Do Too Many Pelvic Floor Exercises? Muscle Fatigue

Yes.

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.

Here’s Why You MUST 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 The Following Problems

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 overtraining can increase your risk of damage such as pelvic organ prolapse or prolapse worsening.

4. Pelvic Floor Spasm and Pelvic Pain

Pelvic Muscle Spasm

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 – you’re only human.

Do you have a question or comment about how many pelvic floor exercises you need to do?

I’d love to hear your comments below

Further Reading & Related Videos

» Kegel Exercises Video Series For Beginners

» What’s The Best Pelvic Floor Exercises Position ?

» 5 Simple Ways To Progress Your Pelvic Floor Exercises

Reference List

Bø, K. (2007). Evidence-based physical therapy for the pelvic floor: Bridging science and clinical practice. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

We Welcome Your Comments

Comments

  1. Pauline says:

    Hi Michelle
    On the quiet, I’m sitting at my desk trying to hold a conversation and doing my lifting and squeezing. I assume it is okay to do these in a sitting position?
    Pauline

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Absolutely! Perfect to try to do your exercises in sitting if that’s what you do for day work. This gives you lots of opportunity for quality strengthening – good luck.

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you for this information. It has cleared up some misgivings I have had about frequency and duration of pelvic floor exercises. I really appreciate your teaching others how to do these exercises correctly.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      What a lovely comment Barbara, thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind feedback. I’m really glad that this information has improved your understanding.

  3. If I do only one or two contractions at a time, but still get the total of 30 – 36 a day, will it have the same effect as doing 3 sets of ten to twelve contractions?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Great question Mae, I don’t know of any research investigating this idea. It is really important to exercise to a certain point of muscle fatigue when strengthening – I think that if you were to do this using a strong action then this could only help. Whether or not it’s as beneficial as 3 sets of 10-12 or even more beneficial is a great question. If this works for you, then I’d suggest to do it.

  4. Hi Michelle,
    I have been trying to do kegel exercises for about 6-8 weeks as a complement to receiving e-stim treatment. I have been instructed to do 15 repetitions holding for 5 seconds and resting for 10 seconds 3 times a day – once lying, once sitting, and once standing. However I have difficulty doing them correctly. First, I find them nearly impossible to hold without holding my breath. Second, I have trouble locating the correct muscles. The act of stopping urine flow seems a very weak contraction compared to what I imagine a Kegel to be and located at the very front of the vaginal area – and I can’t detect any contraction on the back vaginal wall or perineum as you described in the “feeling your kegels” video when I use the “stopping your flow technique.”

    The APRN doing my e-stim treatments worked with me using the biofeedback screen one time after I expressed concern about the third week of treatment. She said they looked perfect and seemed annoyed with me and said I was overthinking – but I don’t want to do them wrong. However when I try to do exercises at home, I often find myself needing 3 or 4 attempts to get the right muscles. Example: first time I may find myself contracting my buttocks; the second try may be a squeeze with no lift; I may squeeze at the back, middle, or very forward of the vagina. I am beyond frustrated. I can read and listen to the videos, but seem unable to reproduce the same movement consistently on my own even after several weeks. Should I seek another PFPT to work exclusively as a coach on my pelvic floor exercises? I would appreciate any Thank you for any advice you can provide.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Karla

      I can understand your frustration, it sounds as though you’re working really hard on this and it’s taking time to see results. On a positive note you seem to have a really good idea of what you need to be doing to get the right technique and also you’re aware of when you’re not doing your exercises correctly too which is excellent.

      I think that you need to allow yourself some more time to get the exercises right. Muscle learning takes time and when the muscles are really weak it takes even longer than when the muscles are normal strength. Think of trying to acquire a new motor skill for example throwing a ball into a bucket and then try to imagine doing the same skill if your arm muscles are really weak – not the greatest example but I think you can see that learning to do the skill or action with accuracy takes time with weak muscles. The same holds true for your pelvic floor muscles. I think that if you can persevere when you feel the correct action for a couple of repetitions only then this is the way to get started. Trying to do too many reps will just fatigue and frustrate you. Start with getting your action or technique correct using number of reps you can do using the correct technique, even if it’s 1-2 reps for 1-2 seconds each and repeat that number during the course of the day making sure you have a really good rest in between attempts. The focus on the outset is just getting the action right, not how many reps you can do. When you can repeat the correct action that is the time to start increasing the number of reps you can do and not until then. I think it’s worth remembering that strengthening really weak muscles takes time – up to 6 months at least. Go back to basics and simple focus on technique. I’m not sure whether or not you’re using estim at home to help you? This could help you too. By all means if you feel that you require assistance from of Pelvic Floor Physio then seek assistance to guide you in the right direction and give you feedback too. I hope this information gives you somewhere to start Karla, it actually does sound as though you’re starting with good baseline knowledge which stands you in good stead. Let me know what you think & always keen to hear how you progress!

      • Michelle,
        Thank you for your reply. I think you are right that I am getting too hung up on the repetitions rather than focusing on the quality and being sure to engage the right muscles. I am using your techniques to feel my Kegels which is helping me to get the hang of it , I think I am just too impatient. I am doing a series of e – stim treatment at a Urogynecology department with a prescription for Kegels daily between sessions. I am improving my muscle strength, but uncertain whether it is due to the e-stim or exercises. Hopefully both. Regardless, I want to continue doing my exercises regularly to help support my stage 2 prolapsed. In addition, a pessary has been very helpful in relieving some of my symptoms, so I feel that I am well on my way to dealing with my pelvic organ prolapse without surgery for the foreseeable future. I gain a lot of encouragement from reading and watching videos on your site and thank you for your efforts in helping women with their pelvic health.
        Most sincerely,
        Karla

        • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

          My pleasure Karla, reps are the last thing for you to worry about at the moment. The reps will come in time as your endurance & strength improve which as I said may take months so set yourself up to expect this to avoid disappointment. Keep focusing on what you are doing which is getting correct muscle activation, if you can get this right then all else will follow. Keep up your great work, you’re well on track!

  5. Rondahe says:

    Hi Michelle , thank you so much , this website is a life saver , l really wanted to tell my journey , regarding pop , my personal journey , pop came be a very scary and lonely personal trauma , l thank you for this information that has helped me on the road to recovery , l was diagnosed , with a prolapsed bladder after menopause , didn’t know what this was , lm doctor told me to do pelvic floor exercise , and l work in age care , and l become an aqua instructor , and went to teach , deep water aqua and now pilates in the water , best thing for prolapse , l now have a pessary , and estrogen cream , l have my life back , there is hope through knowledge , my physio is amazed at my knowledge of pop , there’s lots of scams on the internet , go to the professionals , not everything out there is fact , hope you have recovered Michelle , regards Rondahe .

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Rondahe, thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your success story. It’s just great to hear how well you’re managing and that you have your active life back again. Yes agreed knowledge is power for women – it allows them to understand what needs to be done to help them manage their prolapse. All too often they are brushed aside and left suffering needlessly. All the best for your ongoing management Rondahe and thanks again!

  6. Hi, Do you know about the Jade Egg, and do you recommend it?
    Thanks, Sara

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Sara, yes I do know the Jade Egg. There can be problems with the jade egg compared with other vaginal strengthening devices. Sometimes the material is porous allowing bacteria to build up in the egg, thereby increasing the risk of vaginal infection. The method of use for the Jade egg is often inappropriate (i.e. leave inside the vagina) and this increases the load on the pelvic floor potentially causing the pelvic floor to stretch and strain. Finally some women have difficulty inserting and removing the egg. There are more appropriate weighted vaginal strengthening devices made of medical grade materials. Cheers