Guest post originally published by Crystal Chanderbhan, ND
A Guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, sometimes known as “Kegels” can be performed to improve your overall health. These exercises strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor and can be performed for childbirth preparation, control involuntary loss of urine and improve your sex life.
- Improve the tone of the perineal muscles and pelvic organ support
- Promote post-partum healing and comfort
- Prevent urinary incontinence or regain bladder control
How to perform Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Tightly contract muscles surrounding the vagina with an internal “pulling up”
- Release muscles and take notice of the relaxation
- Contact tightly again, hold, then release
If it is difficult to get the feeling of this exercise, try stopping and starting the flow of urine while urinating. Do not do this on an ongoing basis. Another way is to tighten your bottom as if trying to hold back gas.
Variation: “The Elevator”
This variation can be done to gain full control of the perineal floor muscles, in addition to increasing flexibility and develop awareness of tension/relaxation, which can be helpful for delivery. This exercise can be done in any position, however, lying down is typically easier.
How to perform “The Elevator”
Imagine you are riding in an elevator. As you ascend each floor, try to draw up the perineal muscles a little more until you reach complete tension. When you reach your limit, don’t let go:
- Now, descend, floor-by-floor, gradually relaxing the muscle. When you arrive at the ground floor (no tension), take the muscle group to the basement with a gentle blowing out breath through pursed lips. This should feel as if the perineum is bulging
- Complete the exercise by lifting up the muscle back to the ground floor level
- Repeat the entire exercise and remember to breathe normally as you tighten the pelvic floor muscles
Everywhere and anywhere! These exercises can be performed without anyone being aware of what you are doing. Here are some ideas:
- At red traffic lights
- While cooking
- During commercial breaks on TV
- During sexual intercourse
- While waiting at the grocery store
- While brushing your teeth
Initially, perform 5 in a row, holding each muscle contraction for 5 seconds, then releasing. The goal is to 50 contractions a day for the rest of your life.
- Perform the pelvic floor exercises as often as you can. The more you perform them, the faster you will feel and notice the results.
- Select an activity you do often as a reminder. During commercial breaks while watching TV is an easy way to attain a goal of 50 sets daily (i.e. 2 sets of 5 contractions done at each commercial break). Find a behavioural cue to use as a regular reminder.