Pelvic Floor Exercises – The Dos and Don’ts of Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic Floor Exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are a simple and effective way to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and improve bladder control. They are especially important in women who have experienced the problems of a pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence after childbirth. The article below outlines the basic dos and don’ts of this exercise, but it is also a good idea to speak with a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor issues and get instruction on how to do kegels correctly.

Generally speaking, if you have trouble feeling the muscle squeeze when performing a kegel you are probably doing it wrong. This is common because the muscle is very small and it takes a lot of practice to feel the tightening and lifting of these muscles. One trick is to try and think of the muscle action as being circular – similar to ripples in a pond – this can make it easier to feel the muscles contract.

Another trick is to try to squeeze the muscles as if you are trying to hold back wind. This can help to find the right muscles if you haven’t found them before. Once you have the correct muscles identified, start with a few repetitions a day and increase that over time. The muscles will tire so it is a good idea to take a short break between contractions – this allows the muscles to recover and prepare for the next contraction.

If you are having trouble getting the correct muscle activity from a kegel, ask your GP for a referral to a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist or continence advisor. They can show you how to do the kegels correctly and can use different techniques like biofeedback or electrical stimulation to help you learn how to target these muscles more effectively.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercise (PFME) has been used as a conservative treatment for urinary incontinence since it was first described by Arnold Kegel, gynecologist, in 1948. PFME is a set of abdominal and pelvic floor muscle contractions performed consecutively to improve strength and function of the pelvic floor muscles. PFME can be used to treat urinary incontinence and is particularly helpful for stress urinary incontinence.

PFME can be performed with either the hands or legs on the lap, lying down or sitting. Ideally, it should be done several times a day and as often as needed during the course of the day to improve bladder control. It is important to note that the muscles should only be activated using the pelvic floor muscles – this does not include your stomach, leg or buttock muscles – which can interfere with your control. It is also important to understand that the exercises may not be effective if you strain or perform a Valsalva maneuver during the contraction. These are a common cause of false contractions and can actually weaken the muscles. The Brink score and Laycock PERFECT assessment scales are commonly used to assess the pressure, vertical displacement and endurance of these muscle contracts.