Lift it Ladies!

Posted by on Jun 2, 2011 in Physiotherapy | 2 Comments

Most women have heard of the pelvic floor and been told to do their daily ‘exercises, but the importance of the pelvic floor muscles is often overlooked until people experience problems after giving birth or later in life. Below is a brief introduction to the pelvic floor so, whether you have problems or not, you can start to take control!

The Pelvic Floor is a sling of muscles which run from the pubic bone at the front to the tail bone or coccyx at the back. They form the ‘floor’ that closes the outlets of the bladder, bowel and the vaginal entrance.

The role of the pelvic floor is to:

  • Maintain urinary continence (i.e help prevent leakage)
  • Protect the spine by working as part of a ‘corset’ of muscles that help stabilise your lower back
  • Support the pelvic organs  (bladder, uterus, bowel)
  • Control sexual sensation

As you can see it is a pretty important little set of muscles! So what can happen when it’s not working properly?

  • Urinary leakage with sneezing or exercise
  • Bladder/bowel urgency
  • Night time urinary frequency
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Ongoing sacroiliac or low back pain

Finding your Pelvic floor

  • Start in a comfortable position either sitting or lying with your legs, buttocks and abdominals relaxed.
  • Gently squeeze and draw up the pelvis floor muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine, make sure you don’t suck in your breath, breathing should be relaxed.

Quick Strength Exercise (for control when you sneeze or laugh)

  • Squeeze and draw up the muscles fast and firmly then relax and repeat until they fatigue.

Endurance Exercise

  • Slowly and gently lift the muscles higher and higher then attempt to hold the muscle contraction for 5-10 seconds (remember not to hold your breath!) and slowly let them relax again.

Try doing each exercise about 5-10 times twice a day.

It’s a good idea at first to set aside some time to practise ‘switching on’ these muscles but once you have mastered this you can do your exercises literally anywhere! Pick a daily activity that you do each and every day such as brushing your teeth, or when you stop at a red light in the car, and do your pelvic floor exercises at the same time.

Also remember, it is not only females that need a strong pelvic floor.  Men also need to be doing regular pelvic floor exercises to avoid urinary incontinence and other problems later in life.

 

2 Comments

  1. CW
    June 3, 2011

    Great, clear information. Always good to be reminded. I am keen to get back into running after having a few children. Do you have any tips on how to assess whether my pelvic floor is up to the task or is it just a matter of trying it out and seeing how feel after? Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Michelle Gall
    June 14, 2011

    Thanks for your comment CW. It’s great to hear that you are keen to get back into running (especially with a few children to care for!). As long as your last child was not born less than 6 weeks ago there should be no reason that running will cause you any problems. Hopefully you have already done some pelvic floor exercises before, during and after your pregnancy. If not it is worth getting a hang of these and making them a regular part of your routine before starting impact exercise. If you have been having any leakage issues after coughing, sneezing or laughing you may need a bit more time focusing on pelvic floor control before running. One way of checking whether your pelvic floor has switched back on is to attempt to stop your urine mid flow (it is not advisable to do this regularly but is just a good way to check!). If you haven’t done much exercise at all since your last pregnancy you may find starting with walking and slowly building up to running is the best way to allow, not only your pelvic floor, but the rest of your body to adapt. Good luck and let me know if you have any further questions!

    Reply

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