Pelvic floor strength exercise is similar to strength training in the gym – getting the right technique and doing the correct amount of exercise is vital for getting the best results.
This Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist guide teaches you how to improve your pelvic floor strength with:
- Daily pelvic floor strength exercise guidelines;
- How often to exercise; and
- How long it takes to improve pelvic floor strength.
Daily Pelvic Floor Strength Guidelines
These pelvic floor strength training guidelines are based upon recent scientific research into pelvic floor strength exercises1:
- Hold each pelvic floor contraction for 3-10 seconds.
- Repeat 8-12 pelvic floor muscle exercises in a row (this is one full set).
- Perform a total of 3 sets of exercise each day.
- Make every attempt to contract the pelvic floor muscles as strong as possible using the correct technique.
- Perform pelvic floor muscle exercises every day.
Pelvic Floor Strengthening Tip – if you can’t maintain the correct pelvic floor exercise technique with strong exercises, gradually build up how strongly you contract your muscles when you are able to do so.
Start at your own level
Obviously everyone is different and different women can hold their pelvic floor muscles on for different lengths of time. You may find you can contract your pelvic floor muscles for longer, even up to 10 seconds. You may find you can contract your pelvic floor muscles up to 8-12 times in a row.
Key points for pelvic floor exercise:
- Start your pelvic floor exercises at a level that is comfortable and manageable for you, even if you start with just a couple of repetitions a day;
- Practice your pelvic floor exercises daily; and
- Progress your pelvic floor exercises as your strength and endurance increase to longer and stronger exercises.
How Often to Exercise?
To improve your pelvic floor strength, when starting out do what feels comfortable to do, using the correct pelvic floor exercise technique.
Here’s an example to help you know how often to exercise:
If you can contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds and you can do this 4 times in a row, then this is how much exercise you need repeat around 3 times daily. For example your daily strengthening routine may be something like this…
- Morning exercises – In bed before getting up contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, 4 times in a row.
- Midday exercises – At morning tea, contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, 4 times in a row.
- Evening exercises – In bed at night contract your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, 4 times in a row.
As your pelvic floor strength and endurance improve, you will find that you are able to increase the number of exercises you perform and how long you can hold each exercise for, anywhere up to 10 seconds, 8-12 times in a row and repeat this 3 times a day for a total of 24-36 exercises.
How Long for Improved Strength?
Studies suggest it takes around 3-5 months of dedicated exercise to fully rehabilitate weak pelvic floor muscles.
Once again, the key point for further pelvic floor strengthening are practicing regularly and progressively challenging your muscles to work harder (with longer and stronger pelvic floor muscles contractions) as your pelvic floor strength improves. Progress your exercises into upright positions such as sitting and standing when you can. This will also promote stronger pelvic floor muscles.
After 3-5 months of training, your pelvic floor muscles should be stronger and notice the benefits of improved pelvic floor control and support.
You will keep your pelvic floor muscles in great shape with a life-long commitment to pelvic floor strength exercises a couple of days every week!
1These pelvic floor exercise strength training principles are based upon evidence-based physical therapy recommendations taken from Bo K, Aschehoug A, (2007) Strength training. In: Bo K, Berghmans B, Morkved S, Van Kampen M (Eds) Evidence-based physical therapy for the pelvic floor. Philadelphia: Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier pp. 119−132.
INSIDE OUT – PELVIC FLOOR SAFE EXERCISES
with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Learn how to exercise and avoid exercises that overload the pelvic floor causing pelvic floor problems.
Inside Out book and DVD is a complete exercise solution for women seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.