A 32 year old pelvic floor patient of mine is a stay at-home-mom who manages the house with 3 children under the age of 5. She lives on a farm in which she gardens, does the farm books, and prepares meals for the family.
After having her third baby she has been needing to wear up to 3 incontinence pads a day to catch the leaks that happen when lifting her kids, bending over and pulling weeds, or even a just simple cough. She is worried about her symptoms worsening, having to carry supplies with her all the time, and is embarrassed for when the leaks happen in public.
Her doctor recommended pelvic floor physiotherapy to help with her leaking but she didn’t know how she would find the time to fit the appointments and exercises into her busy schedule.
One of the most challenging parts of Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy is taking that initial step to book your appointment. Sometimes the barrier is the financial commitment, but many times for women it is the time commitment.
But, those are signs that your pelvic floor muscles are not performing like they should.
The pelvic floor is the group of muscles that function to support organs such as the bladder, uterus, and bowels. These intricate muscles are also for controlling when you go to the bathroom and your sexual function. Good performance of these muscles mean they can reflexively squeeze before you cough, relax while you go pee or have a bowel movement, contract rapidly during an orgasm, and stretch (quite a bit!) during childbirth.
However, sometimes physical or mental trauma, aging, or medical conditions cause these muscles to have difficulties performing.
Are some of the many reasons why these pelvic floor muscles can be affected.
You may be pleased to hear, spending your valuable time with a pelvic floor physiotherapist is well worth the investment! You can experience significant benefits with just a few pelvic floor exercises tailored specially for you.
See for yourself! Keep reading for examples of pelvic floor exercises that you can start doing now, and easily fit into your day.
Yes, it is that easy. This exercise can be helpful for a variety of conditions! Pain, prolapse, surgery, post-partum, etc.
Sit, lay down, or pick your favorite yoga pose (child’s pose is a favorite!).
Take a deep breath through your nose, letting your belly expand and feel the pelvic floor muscles relax.
Then, exhale. Through your nose, and feel a “lift” of your pelvic floor.
Having troubles feeling those pelvic muscles? Sitting on an exercise ball with your knees out wide can give you a bit of pressure to feel those pelvic floor muscles contract and relax with your breath.
This is a great exercise to get your hip, core, breath and pelvic floor all working in harmony. A more challenging one than deep breathing but it is a favorite for prolapse or postpartum patients.
Lay on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Take a deep breath in. Then, as you breathe out lift your hips off of the floor and contract your pelvic floor. Keep your knees steady and parallel with each other through the whole movement.
A shake-up to the basic kegel because we don’t need to live our day with a maximum pelvic floor contraction for all activities. Here is how you do it:
Deep breath in.
Breathe out and contract your pelvic floor muscles 30% – or “first floor” if you will.
Completely relax the pelvic floor with the next breath in.
Repeat but contract to the “second floor” – approximately 60% of your maximum.
Finally – make your way to the top floor with a full kegel for the final repetition.
A very functional movement you already do multiple times a day. Now all you have to do is bring your awareness to your breath and your pelvic floor muscles.
Start in a seated position.
With a breath out, stand up from your chair.
Breathe in as you lower your hips, then your knees gracefully back to your chair.
Now, time to dial in to the tension of those pelvic floor muscles with a relaxing yet challenging pose.
Lay on your back and grab the back of your legs bringing your thighs to your belly.
Bonus points for combining the first exercise with this one!
Take it to the next level by grabbing onto your feet or for the yogis out there – use your peace fingers to grab onto your big toes.
No worries, you can get creative with fitting these in throughout your day! For example, while on your zoom conference you can be doing elevators without anyone noticing. Stiff and exhausted at the end of your day? Enjoy the happy baby pose before you catch a few Zs. Before you know it, you have fit in your pelvic floor physiotherapy exercises in less than 10 minutes in your day.
My busy patient enjoyed incorporating her exercises into her day. One of the most effective exercises for her was the sit to stand. Once she mastered the movement we made it functional with weight. Eventually she was able to lift her toddler up, using the proper technique to prevent leaking – without even thinking about it!
That is a tricky one because women are told to Kegel all the time, yet still, 25% of the population have pelvic floor dysfunction. This is why pelvic health physiotherapy exists. The short answer is it should feel easy, you shouldn’t need to clench your “cheeks” or hold your breath. An assessment from a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist is the gold standard for learning how to do a proper kegel.
Leaking is very common after giving birth. Is it “normal” – not necessarily. Some women don’t notice symptoms of incontinence until 5 years after delivering their baby. Even if your leaking is minor, it is a sign your pelvic floor muscles are not performing as they should. Don’t worry, your symptoms can be completely eliminated with pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Pelvic floor muscles don’t have to be stretched to have difficulties doing their job. Sometimes those muscles are just working too hard for too long, making them easily tired when they need to work. This article explains more about types and potential causes of urinary incontinence.
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