How to do your Pelvic Floor Exercises by Consultant Physiotherapist in Pelvic Health and Pelviva Clinical Director, Julia Herbert.
What are Pelvic Floor muscle exercises?
Pelvic Floor muscle exercises, sometimes referred to by the American term as ‘Kegel’ exercises, are essential to every woman’s exercise routine and they can be done anytime, anywhere, and without anyone noticing! Not only do they increase your control over your bladder, your pelvic floor muscles support your vagina, womb (uterus) and bowel, so keeping them in good working order is beneficial for women of all ages and stages of life.
Firstly … Find your Pelvic Floor
- Relax and sit on a rolled-up towel or hard seat. Imagine you are trying to stop passing wind and tighten around your back passage (anus). This action tightens your Pelvic Floor muscles. You will feel them pulling upwards and forwards towards the bone between the top of your legs (pubic bone) and away from the towel/seat.
- Lie down on the bed and using a mirror check if you can see the opening of the vagina and the area of skin (perineal body) between your front and back passage lifting upwards away from the mirror.
- Alternatively, relax in a warm bath or lie on the bed – place your thumb just inside the opening of your vagina. Contracting your Pelvic Floor muscles should lift the back wall of the vagina upwards against the pad of your thumb.
Secondly… Practice long, slow contractions:
- Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself passing wind or urine. This will tighten the muscles around the back passage, squeezing and lifting your Pelvic Floor muscles upwards and forwards. You may not feel that much is happening at first but keep trying. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds and then relax for a few seconds. Don’t hold your breath. Gradually, increase the hold time and the number of contractions you do until you can hold the squeeze for up to 10 seconds and repeat it up to 10 times each time.
Thirdly … Introduce short, strong contractions:
- Because it’s important for your Pelvic Floor muscles to be able to react quickly to stop you leaking when you cough, sneeze, jump, laugh or shout, you need to do these short and strong contractions too. Tighten your muscles as quickly and strongly as you can, then relax. Do this up to 10 times each time.
To strengthen your Pelvic Floor muscles, you should repeat both types of exercises 3 times each day. (NICE Guidelines Urinary Incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women: management. Updated June 2019). NHS guidelines on pelvic floor exercises are here.