When we talk about floor exercises here at our Eight Mile Plains physiotherapist clinic, we aren’t discussing a gymnastics routine! Our Women’s Physiotherapist, Ms Jiaming (Caroline) Sui explains …
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your body, situated like a hammock stretching between your pubic bone and your tailbone. Its primary role is to support your pelvic organs – the bladder, bowel, and the uterus in women – both physically and functionally.
Common Pelvic Floor Problems
Like any other muscle in your body, if your pelvic floor is not working properly it can lead to problems. You may notice things like:
- Accidentally leaking urine when you sneeze, cough, or laugh.
- Passing wind (or worse!) accidentally.
- Feelings of heaviness or a bulge in the vagina, particularly when straining on the loo.
- Needing to go to the toilet frequently or urgently (bladder and/or bowel).
- Feelings of incompletion when with emptying your bladder or bowel.
- Pain in the lower back or bladder – during sex, or any activity which uses your pelvic floor muscles.
- Less sexual sensation and difficulties reaching orgasm (in women).
Although these are often associated with pelvic floor problems, they can also be signs of other conditions, so it’s always worth getting checked by your GP.
How Do Pelvic Floor Problems Occur?
Pelvic floor issues are very common, particularly in women, primarily due to the demands of pregnancy and childbirth. They may also occur if you:
- Suffer from constipation, and find yourself straining on the loo.
- Cough or sneeze a lot (eg asthma and hay fever sufferers).
- Are overweight.
- Often lift heavy weights (eg for work, at the gym).
- Have a history of back pain.
However, they shouldn’t be accepted as just part of ageing. First of all, over half the women experiencing incontinence are under the age of 50; and secondly, pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises), are effective in reducing symptoms in 80% of cases.
And once you know how, they are quite easy to do!
You can do them lying down, sitting up, or standing – at home, at your desk, or while driving (every time you get a red light perhaps?).
Pelvic Floor Exercises in 3 Steps
- Imagine you are trying to stop a wee, while holding in wind at the same time – gently squeeze up and inside your pelvis. Don’t hold your breath – just breathe quietly throughout. You may feel your lower abdominal muscles tense, but you shouldn’t feel any change above your belly button.
- If you can, hold the squeeze for a count of 10.
- Fully relax your pelvic floor, and your tummy muscles too. It sounds easy but it can be a challenge if you’re not used to it!
Then, gently repeat these three steps.
You may find you can only manage a couple of repetitions at first; remember, quality is more important than quantity. Over time, the goal is to work up to ten repetitions, at three different times each day.
If you aren’t sure if you are getting it right, it’s important to seek help as doing them incorrectly has the potential to do more harm than good.
Are You Doing your Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly?
This is when a women’s physiotherapist can help.
You don’t need to be embarrassed – I have helped hundreds of women like you, to take control of their pelvic floor muscles.
If your pelvic floor is giving you grief, you can make an appointment with our women’s physiotherapist Caroline, at our Eight Mile Plains clinic, by calling 3841-3070.