Pelvic floor exercises is one of the easiest and most common ways to help treat incontinence. The pelvic floor supports important organs such as the bladder and bowels. These muscles are crucial for urinary control and continence.
Pelvic floor exercises or kegels can be done by both men and women. No matter how young or old you are, how mild or severe your incontinence is pelvic floor exercises are proven to help.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises
You don’t need any special equipment such as weights or a band.
They can be done anywhere at any time.
It can help with the treatment and prevention of anal/vaginal prolapse.
For men, these exercises can help recovery after prostate surgery.
It helps with pregnancy and childbirth.
Strengthens the muscles around your bladder and bowels meaning incontinence is less likely to occur.
How to Find your Pelvic Muscles
Before you begin doing pelvic exercises it’s important that you find the right muscles. Don’t worry if you don’t find it the first time as this can often be the hardest part of the exercise.
Sit or lie down making sure your thighs, buttocks and stomach are all relaxed.
Squeeze the ring of muscles around your back passage. It can be helpful to imagine you are trying to prevent yourself from passing wind. Relax the muscle then squeeze a few more times to ensure you are targeting the right muscles. You should be squeezing your pelvic muscles and not your buttocks.
It may help, next time you go to the bathroom while you are urinating to squeeze and stop your urine stream. By doing this you are using your pelvic floor muscles, this can help you identify what muscles you have to work out. It’s important to not do this all the time but as a once-off to help identify your muscles. If you are regularly stopping and starting your stream when urinating your bladder may begin to not empty properly.
Specifically for women, if you squeeze as if you were holding a tampon in this might help you identify the right muscles.
Pelvic Floor Routine
Keep your thighs, buttocks, and stomach all relaxed. It’s important that you breathe normally and aren’t tempted to hold your breath.
First Week: Squeeze for five seconds, and give yourself a five-second rest. Do this ten times, three times a day.
Second Week: Squeeze for five seconds and give yourself a five-second rest. Do this fifteen times, three times a day.
Third Week: Squeeze for eight seconds, give yourself eight seconds rest. Do this ten times, three times a day.
Fourth Week: Squeeze for eight seconds, give yourself eight seconds rest. Do this fifteen times, three times a day.
At the very least you need to be doing 10 repetitions of squeezes, three times a day. If you can’t squeeze your pelvic muscles for five seconds then try squeezing for a shorter amount of time. Conversely, as the weeks go on and you find five seconds is too easy you can increase the time you squeeze and rest for. If you’re having trouble with these exercises, contact your doctor or a physiotherapist and they will be able to create a custom routine that fits your needs. Be careful of overworking your muscles it's vital that you have rests between squeezes.
While three times a day may seem like a lot it really isn’t. The upside of pelvic floor exercises is they can be done anywhere so make them part of your daily routine. While you may find it easier to lie down they can also be done standing up. Get a strict routine going, for example perhaps when you first wake up, or when you brush your teeth. Implement it with your regular schedule to ensure you don’t forget. You may find it takes a couple of weeks to show positive effects but keep at it. Like any muscle, the pelvic floor is no different, once you stop working out and doing your exercises you will lose all the progress you have made.