The pelvic floor- the who, what, when, where and how? by Janette O‘toole Women’s Health Physiotherapist
1- What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a sling that spans the bottom of the pelvis, much like a trampoline. It is comprised of muscle, ligaments, connective tissue and nerves.
2- Why are the Pelvic Floor muscles important?
The pelvic floor muscles (or Kegel muscles) help with:
- bladder control
- bowel control
- pelvic organ support (bladder, bowel, uterus) to prevent vaginal prolapse
- sexual arousal and satisfaction
- back and pelvic support
3- Who needs it?
All women (and men) should do pelvic floor exercises! However they are even more important if you:
- are pregnant
- have had children
- had a big baby (over 4kg)
- needed forceps during delivery (ouch!)
- are overweight
- are a very young or older mother
- do high impact exercise
- are postmenopausal
- pre and post prostatectomy (in men)
- are having any symptoms of leaking urine, poor wind control, heaviness or dragging down below. These exercises can help.
4- How do I do them?
Pelvic floor exercises are a bit tricky and can be difficult to learn to do right.
To begin, you should:
- ‘Imagine you are trying to stop yourself from passing urine and wind from your back passage’. Squeeze and draw in around the openings, then let them go.
- practice a few squeezes sitting on a firm chair. Try to do them as strongly as you can and remember to let go each time.
- try not to hold your breath
- do 10 short squeezes then 10 longer squeezes holding for 3 seconds. If this is easy try to increase the number that you do or how long you can hold for.
If this is difficult you can:
- imagine you are shutting the doors (vagina and back passage) to a lift and going up to the top floor
- use your hand to apply gentle pressure between your legs and try to draw away from your hand
Try to do them:
- every day
- in different positions such as lying, sitting, standing, walking, squatting or lunging.
Pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere. Once you are confident, you can do them while you wait in line to buy your groceries, waiting at the traffic light or include them in your workout. However, it will take time to build up the strength and before you may notice much change.
5- Where do I get help?
If you are having any symptoms (such as leaking, dragging, or heaviness down below), or you are worried if you are doing the exercises incorrectly, you should see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
At Better Health our physiotherapists have completed specialised training on the pelvic floor. We may do a vaginal examination or use an ultrasound to check how your pelvic floor is working and provide coaching to help you. Consider us personal trainers for your pelvic floor! Call us on 9518 0722 to make an appointment or to ask to speak to a physiotherapist if you would like to ask further questions.