How to add pelvic floor exercises to your routine

How to add pelvic floor exercises to your routine

Studies have shown that pelvic floor disorders prevail in about 25% of women at some point in their lifetime, with urinary incontinence being the most frequent pelvic floor disorder reported. 

Leaking urine now and then during high-pressure situations such as laughing and coughing may be common however that does not make it normal. Doing so on a more regular basis is an indication that you might have a weak pelvic floor which is unable to support the function of your underlying urinary sphincter.

Fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse follow close behind urinary incontinence as indications of a weak pelvic floor. 

Are pelvic floor exercises necessary?

As we age, the several strenuous circumstances that our pelvic floor might go through during our lifetime (such as pregnancy), cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken. Medical conditions such as chronic constipation, coughing, or even having pelvic surgery can contribute to strain placed on the pelvic floor.

Like any other muscle in the body, if your pelvic floor isn’t exercised regularly, it’s unable to cope with this excessive strain. The weakness in the pelvic floor muscles is what results in the gradual loss of sphincter control and pelvic organ prolapse.

It's vital to maintain a healthy pelvic floor - one way you can do this is by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles via Kegels.

Kegel exercises, when practiced regularly help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which in turn help with stronger bladder, vaginal, and even rectal control. To identify your pelvic floor muscles for practicing your Kegels, pretend to stop the flow of urine. This simple act indicates whether you have good control over your urinary sphincter and also helps highlight how strong your pelvic floor muscles are.

I have so many questions! How and when should I practice my pelvic floor exercises?

Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, begin by performing one round of Kegels which includes contracting these muscles for about 10 seconds with a few seconds of release in between each contraction. Make sure to keep breathing throughout each round of contraction. Repeating this 5 - 10 times counts as one round of Kegels. It’s ideal to practice doing these exercises about 3 to 4 times a day.

While remembering to do your pelvic floor exercises can seem like a hassle, the good news is that you can perform your Kegels during any time of the day. At any time during the day when you’re sitting or lying down in a comfortable position, dedicate a few minutes to performing a round of Kegels. From waking up, to sitting at your desk, to the moment you lay down at night to sleep, you can do your Kegel exercises anywhere!  But when trying to make a habit, be sure to pick times of the day when you’re least likely to forget and as any habit, try performing your Kegels during this same time every day.

Today, with technology for alarms at our fingertips, setting up a recurring reminder to perform your Kegels can help make them a part of your routine. This way you ensure you are practicing your pelvic floor workout without having to think too much about it and without actually disrupting a lot of your day.

In short, there’s no perfect time to perform your Kegels. Any time of the day that works best for you is a good time to conduct your pelvic floor exercises. Just remember, that good Kegel form is extremely important! 30% of women are performing their Kegels incorrectly and while they may be practicing often, they can be further injuring their pelvic floor due to the incorrect form.

What are the benefits of pelvic floor exercises?

As discussed above, many factors can result in a weak pelvic floor. With age, most of us will begin to show signs of  a weak pelvic floor. But don’t fear! The hassles that weak pelvic floor results in can be minimized significantly by routinely performing your Kegel exercises. 

For one, you’ll have better control of your urinary sphincter every time you laugh, cough, jump, or sneeze. Especially if you’ve already started noticing signs of incontinence, starting your Kegel training habit can help prevent worsening of these symptoms. 

Pelvic floor exercises also help to strengthen the vaginal walls which can enhance your sexual experience with your partner. You can practice your Kegels during penetrative sex. You can also ask your partner to feel for vaginal contractions following insertion.

Another concern that Kegels can help massively with is pelvic organ prolapse. With age, our pelvic organs, such as the uterus, rectum, and bladder might begin to sink as the pelvic floor muscles weaken. If the droop is significant the organs may even be felt within the vaginal walls.  To keep these pelvic organs in their designated locations within your pelvic floor, you need to maintain a strong and healthy pelvic floor.

Of course it's always better to begin your pelvic floor muscle training sooner rather than later. If you know that you are already suffering from a pf dysfunction and are just starting your PF training, great! Just know that it can take slightly longer. With proper form and consistent training you will begin to notice changes...

If you’re experiencing any difficulties when beginning your pelvic floor exercises, if you experience any pain, or are already experiencing signs of prolapse or incontinence, we recommend that you check in with your healthcare professional. You may need some guidance from a physical therapist before you perform your first set of pelvic floor exercises

Article written by
Michelle Frank, Medical Doctor
Director: Health & Wellness at Naima

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