Pelvic floor exercises are exercises to improve pelvic floor muscle strength and fitness.
This Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist information teaches you the proven guidelines for how to exercise for better strength and control of pelvic floor muscles with:
- Pelvic floor daily strength exercise guidelines;
- Pelvic floor exercises for quick control (for cough and sneeze);
- How long until you notice improvements; and
- How to do pelvic floor exercises;
- How to progress pelvic floor exercise for additional challenge.
Download this pelvic floor exercises guide as a PDF by scrolling down.
How to do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
To train pelvic floor muscles you need to practice lifting and squeezing your pelvic floor openings because this is what these muscles do – lift and squeeze your pelvic floor openings.
It is vital to know correct technique for pelvic floor muscle exercises before commencing your exercises.
The pelvic floor muscles are shown above. You can see that the pelvic floor muscles wrap around and support the three pelvic openings (the vagina, anus and urethra or urine tube).
Lift inside and squeeze all three pelvic openings together for correct pelvic floor exercises, then relax them back to resting
When to do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Pelvic exercises should be performed regularly life-long. There are times and events in a woman’s life when they become even more important for pelvic floor health:
- During pregnancy and after childbirth;
- Preparation for incontinence, hysterectomy or pelvic organ prolapse surgery;
- Before and after pelvic surgery for prolapse, incontinence, or hysterectomy; and
- With menopause and beyond.
A. Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength Exercises – Why Bother?
Regular pelvic floor strength exercises can help build:
- Pelvic floor strength, thickness and firmness for better pelvic floor support.
- Pelvic floor endurance or ability to contract for longer periods of time.
If your pelvic floor is strong and working well, it can help you:
- Decrease prolapse symptoms
- Improve bladder control
- Improve bowel control
- Recover pelvic floor strength after pelvic surgery
Pelvic Floor Exercise Strength Training Guidelines
- Make each pelvic floor muscle contraction as strong as possible
- Maintain every contraction for 3-10 seconds
- Repeat 8-12 strong contractions in a row to fatigue (this is one full set of exercise)
- Rest your pelvic floor muscles until recovered 1-2 minutes between each effort
- Perform 1-3 sets of pelvic floor exercise every day
- Adhere to the correct pelvic floor exercise technique
- Perform full pelvic floor muscle action lifting your pelvic floor as high as you are able to with each attempt
- Perform pelvic floor exercises in a controlled manner for the lift and the lower down.
How to Progress Pelvic Floor Strength Exercises
- Increase the duration or length of each pelvic floor muscle contraction
- Increase the strength and effort you use with each pelvic floor muscle contraction
- Decrease the rest time between consecutive pelvic floor exercises when possible
- Consider using vaginal weights to progressively increase resistance to the pelvic floor muscles
- Progress the positions to increase the challenge of lifting the pelvic floor muscles against gravity from lying down to sitting and standing positions.
How Long for Pelvic Floor Exercises to Work?
There are initial rapid gains with pelvic floor exercises even over the first month of training; however the ACSM recommends strength training periods of 15-20 weeks as a minimum. This is because effective pelvic floor training requires increasing overload to promote muscle changes, meaning that women need to work harder over time to continuously improve. Studies show that for weak pelvic floor muscles, pelvic floor muscle strength increases over 6 months of training (Bo et al 1990).
2. Pelvic floor Exercises for Quick Control
These exercises help train pelvic floor muscles to work effectively for bladder control and support when you cough and sneeze
How to train pelvic floor muscles for quick control
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles quickly and strongly using the correct pelvic floor exercise technique for 2 seconds and relax over two seconds.
- Rest briefly and repeat these strong moderate speed pelvic floor contractions for 8-10 times in a row.
- Lift your pelvic floor as high as you can with each successive attempt
- Perform pelvic floor exercises in a controlled manner for the lift and the relax
- When you feel confident and can contract 10 times in a row you are ready to progress your power exercises.
How to progress pelvic floor quick control exercises
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles as strongly as possible, hold the contraction and add 3-4 fast contractions on top of the strong hold
- Rest and repeat for up to 5 times in a row
- Lift your pelvic floor as high as you can with each attempt and then relax your muscles and rest briefly between each attempt
- Ensure that you fully relax your pelvic floor muscles back to their original resting position when you have completed your pelvic exercises.
Download print friendly Pelvic Floor Exercise Training Guidelines PDF
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