You may be unsure about what your pelvic floor muscles are, where they are and how to exercise them. I hope that the following information will make sense to you and allow you to visualise the way your pelvic floor works as well as teach you how to do your pelvic floor exercises properly.
Firstly it is important to know that our pelvic floor muscles always existed, they didn’t just pop up out of nowhere when you became pregnant!! And also men have pelvic floor muscles so they are not exclusive to women! Men’s pelvic floors are compromised when they undergo prostatectomy so this information is entirely relevant to men too.
Our pelvic floor muscles are an important part of our core ; they form the bottom part of what is often described as a ” cylinder of stability”.The other parts of this cylinder of stability are the breathing muscles ie the Diaphragm, our abdominal muscles in front and our lower back muscles behind. All four components of the core need to function in a co-ordinated, balanced way for us to function well. We can get away with an imperfect core but things like marathon training programs and pregnancy ( I often think they’re not as far apart as they seem!) can highlight little underlying issues that may have been there for a long time.
Of course pregnancy take its toll too, hormones soften the muscles, ligaments and joint in preparation for pregnancy and the growing baby weighs down on the pelvic and pelvic floor. Labour comes along and stretches and injures the pelvic floor muscles leaving the poor muscles sore and exhausted. So it’s often after your baby is born that you sit up and take notice of the pelvic floor and feel motivated to regain their full strength and function.
Your Pelvic Floor Muscles are a group of muscles that extend from your back passage to your vagina. They work to support our pelvic contents and maintain continence, ie to go to the toilet only when it is a time that suits us.
Doing your Pelvic Floor exercises:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent
- Tilt your pelvic forwards and backwards and rest in a half-way position ( If I placed a tray of drinks across your tummy it would stay perfectly flat)
- Place the fingers of both hands on your hips and move them down an inch and in and inch from your hip bone ( technically your anterior superior iliac spine if you’re an anatomy whizz!)
- Take some gently breaths in and out. Remember your tummy should rise when you breathe in and fall when you breathe out…this is an exercise program all by itself if you find yourself sucking in your tummy when you breath in!)
- On a breath out, squeeze up around your back passage as if you’re stopping yourself from breaking wind and squeeze up around your front passage as if you’re stopping flow of urine. You should feel a lift in your pelvic floor and you should feel a gently tension building up under your fingers tips below your hips. Make sure your tummy muscles are not bracing, that gentle pressure under your fingers tips is activation on the deeper tummy muscles ( the transversus abdominis) that happens naturally with a contraction of your pelvic floor.
- Hope the squeeze of your pelvic floor and try to breathe normally for a few seconds and then release.
- The release part of the exercise program is as important as the squeezing part so make sure you can feel the muscles relax. If this is hard visualise that you are releasing as though you are going to the toilet to pass urine, but don’t push in any way. Keep releasing for 5 seconds and then move on to your next squeeze.
If you are unsure of your technique, I would recommend going for an assessment of your pelvic floor muscles so that you are sure that the time you are investing in your exercises is productive and effective. It’s time and money well-spent to ensure you are on the right track.