One in four women will experience a problem with their pelvic floor muscles in their lifetime. Pelvic floor muscles help keep the pelvic organs - bladder, uterus, vagina (if previous hysterectomy) and bowel - in the correct position.
Just like other muscles in the body, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak, overstretched, or damaged. The symptoms of pelvic floor disorders include urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and pain during sex. Women suffering from pelvic floor disorders are also likely to experience anxiety and sleep disturbances
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, Federica Evola, Women’s Health Physiotherapist at Harp Health advises to seek treatment as soon as possible as the symptoms can worsen if left untreated. “Pelvic floor muscle training and exercises can treat the symptoms and significantly improve quality of life. However, there are different types of exercises for pelvic floor recovery and it’s important to seek advice from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to ensure that you are doing the right kind of exercises for your specific problem.”
Pelvic floor exercises:
Pelvic floor exercises usually consist of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, with these contractions either short (1-2s) or long (10s or more). To perform the exercises, we suggest the guidance of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, but below are some tips to start engaging your pelvic floor muscles:
- It is important to get the right muscles working. Find a comfortable position, either lying or sitting. Imagine that you are trying to stop the flow of urine and prevent yourself from passing wind by slowly contracting or tensing your muscles inward. You should keep your buttocks and legs relaxed and allow your pelvic floor muscles to fully relax after contraction.
- Now that you have identified the right muscles, slowly tighten and pull up the pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can. Try lifting and squeezing them as long as it’s possible for you to do so. Rest for a few seconds and then repeat the contraction. Try to build up your strength until you are able to do 10 slow contractions at a time, holding them for 10 seconds each with a few seconds rest in between.
- Your pelvic floor muscles also need to react quickly to sudden stresses such as coughing or laughing. Try to practise some quick contractions by drawing in the pelvic floor and holding it for just one second before relaxing. Aim to do up to ten quick contractions in succession to improve your muscle tightening. Do not forget to relax your Pelvic Floor at the end and in between the repetitions.