Are you getting the results you want from your pelvic floor exercises?
Are you frustrated by your lack of progress?
Just like muscle strength training in the gym where increasingly heavy weights are lifted to increase the challenge, pelvic floor muscle training needs to be progressed to get the best strengthening effect.
These 5 quick tips help you progress pelvic floor exercises to get the most benefit out of your pelvic floor strengthening.
Pelvic Floor Exercises Workout
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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
Tip 1. Progress Your Position
What position(s) do you choose for your pelvic floor exercises?
When starting out some women find that lying down is the best position. This is fine to start with but it’s not the best position long-term!
There are 2 main benefits with upright strengthening:
- Increased challenge to your pelvic floor as it needs to lift upwards against gravity.
- Train your pelvic floor muscles to work better when you need them most i.e. upright.
Upright positions for progressing pelvic floor exercises include both sitting and standing. Some women progress pelvic floor exercises from lying down to sitting and then standing as their pelvic floor muscles become stronger.
Ultimately the best position for pelvic floor exercises to maximize your strengthening is standing upright using the correct posture.
Tip 2. Increase Your Effort
Do you use your best possible effort with every exercise or are some of your attempts a little half-hearted?
Strong muscle contractions that use a lot of effort have a better strengthening effect than a weak muscle contractions.
Try to use your best possible effort with every pelvic floor exercise you do i.e. squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles as strongly as you can with every exercise (and don’t forget to try to lower your pelvic floor slowly rather than let it drop).
Tip 3. Progress Your Numbers
You don’t need to do hundreds of daily pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor!
Previous recommendations to do hundreds of pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) daily are now well outdated. In fact this practice can cause pelvic floor fatigue making pelvic floor symptoms worse.
Current pelvic floor exercise guidelines recommend 8-12 pelvic floor exercises in a row. These exercises should be repeated 3 times throughout the day.
Don’t worry if you can only manage to do a few exercises in a row when starting out – this is a common problem with weak pelvic floor muscles. Try to increase your repeated exercises up to 8-12 in a row using your strongest possible pelvic floor contraction as you strengthen over time.
Tip 4. Reduce Your Rests
When starting out you may need long rests between your pelvic floor exercises i.e. 45 seconds and even longer.
Reducing your resting time challenges your pelvic floor muscles making them work harder.
As your strength increases reduce the rest time between each pelvic floor exercise you repeat. You may find that over time you only need 5-10 seconds recovery time before your next exercise.
Tip 5. Resist Everyday Forces
Everyday forces on your pelvic floor include the force when you cough, sneeze, blow your nose or lift something heavy. These forces create pressure downwards on your pelvic floor.
Your challenge is to lift your pelvic floor muscles against these downward forces. In doing so, you’ll make your pelvic floor stronger and better at working for you in your everyday life.
For example, next time you need to cough prepare by squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor muscles in preparation and try to keep them lifted up against the downward force of your cough. This technique is called ‘The Knack’ (shown right).
You may find that at first you can activate your pelvic floor against the force of a small cough. Progress this to resisting more forceful coughing as your pelvic floor gets stronger.
Key Points To Progress Pelvic Floor Exercises
Progressively increasing the challenge to your pelvic floor muscles to make them work harder is the key to getting the best strengthening effect from your pelvic floor exercises.
Maximize the effect of your pelvic floor exercises by:
- Progressing to upright standing exercises
- Using your strongest possible effort
- Doing 8-12 repeated pelvic floor exercises, 3 times/day
- Decreasing the time you spend resting to recover between exercises
- Using your pelvic floor muscles to withstand everyday forces.