Why All Women Should do Pelvic Floor Exercises
24 Nov 2016
It may be a mild problem, with urinary incontinence only causing you concern when you exercise, cough or sneeze etc. This is known as stress incontinence.There are other types of incontinence, all of which can be managed with a range of incontinence supplies for women.
There are many different reasons as to why you may be suffering incontinence. The good news is that in most cases, the effects of incontinence can be reversed completely, or certainly brought under control so that it is more manageable. This is why all women need to know about pelvic floor exercises and why we should all be doing these exercises.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a supportive sling in the lower pelvis. It stretches from the front your body by the pubic bone across to the lower spine. There are 14 different muscles over three layers. In the female, the pelvic muscles surround the urethra, vaginal opening and anus. As well as keeping these organs in place and the pelvic bones stable, pelvic floor muscles are also important in other aspects too;
- Well-toned pelvic floor muscles give rise to stronger and more pleasurable orgasms.
- Urine stays in the bladder when you laugh, cough, run, lift, sneeze, jump and exercise in general.
- The pelvic floor muscles also keep stools in the rectum until you make a conscious effort to relax the muscles, allowing it to pass.
Keep pelvic muscles supple and in good shape, and the benefits are obvious. But exercising these muscles can sometimes be a little mysterious, and we show you how here.
Where do I start?
The first step is to find the right muscles.
The best to do this is to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. If you manage to do this, then you have located the right muscles for pelvic floor muscles exercises. However, this is only a test – don’t make a habit of holding in your urine.
When you squeeze or clench these muscles, it should feel like you are lifting them slightly up into your body. You shouldn’t treat your buttocks or your thighs, although tightening your anus may help.
When you have located the right muscles, start exercising them several times a day. Perform 30 to 40 squeezes of your pelvic floor muscles each time. You can do them as you lie down, standing or sitting. And the best thing is, no one knows you are doing them!
A pelvic floor exercises regime
If you are unsure of any aspect of doing these exercises, consult your doctor or another health professional. They shouldn’t hurt or cause you any discomfort.
When you start doing these exercises…
- Hold and squeeze your pelvic floor muscle for a second or two.
- When you relax the muscle, make a concerted effort to relax the muscle rather than just letting go of the clinch.
- Gradually increase the amount of time you clench the muscle to 10 seconds.
- Rest between the clenches for the same amount of time that you hold the squeeze.
- Try hard, fast contractions too, contracting the muscles as hard as you can – do this up to 10 times.
Feel a sneeze coming on? Want to cough? Squeeze your pelvic muscles when you need them, but especially during activities that you know causes small leaks of urine.
When will you notice a difference?
Results will vary from one person to another. Carry on doing regular pelvic floor exercises over several months and you will notice a difference in two to four months.
Many women, once they have bladder weakness under control, reduce the amount of pelvic floor exercises they do, although it is recommended that irrespective of whether you have incontinence or not, that you do pelvic floor exercises to maintain a supple and flexible pelvic floor.
What else can I do?
Urinary incontinence is more common than you think. As well as managing it with incontinence products and exercising your pelvic floor muscles, there are other things you can do, such as;
Eat healthily – some foods can irritate your bladder. Acidic food, such as citrus juice and fruits, can make incontinence worse.
Cut back on caffeine – caffeine is found in all kinds of drinks from your morning coffee to your favourite soft drink. It is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate.
Cut out alcohol – alcohol is also a diuretic and makes you urinate more frequently.
Watch your weight – being overweight places extra stress on your pelvic floor.
Urinary incontinence can be controlled and managed. In many cases, with pelvic floor exercises, incontinence can be eliminated completely.
HARTMANN Direct supply a range of incontinence pads and pants for men and women. Managing incontinence is easier with the right product and are ideal for using alongside pelvic floor exercises.