How do you perform pelvic floor exercises? There are two types of exercises which you should do each day: long holds and short contractions.
Long holds: Start by focusing your attention on the pelvic floor area. Squeeze or “lift and hold” the pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds duration. Then release. When you do this exercise, visualize a circle closing as the muscles tighten and opening as they relax. “Draw your muscles in” at the urinary, vaginal and anal openings. Gradually increase the length of your hold to 10 seconds. Start with 3 repetitions. When you’re able to hold for 10 seconds, gradually increase the number of repetitions to 10-30. Let your muscles rest in between each repetition. (If you hold for 5 seconds, relax for 5 seconds. If you hold for 10 seconds, relax for 10 seconds.)
Short contractions: Focus your attention on your pelvic floor muscles. Pull up and in, hold just 1-2 seconds and relax. Repeat these quick contractions until your muscles are too tired to continue. Build up to 30 repetitions.
Important technique tips:
Start with as many repetitions as you can tolerate. Progress slowly by gradually increasing the number of repetitions or the length of your long holds.
Make sure your stomach, buttocks and inner leg muscles all stay relaxed during pelvic floor exercises. Don’t strain or bear down. The only muscles contracting or moving should be your pelvic floor.
Don’t hold your breath during pelvic floor exercises. If you count out loud, that may prevent you from holding your breath. Try breathing out as you squeeze your pelvic floor. “Exhale on the effort” is a good slogan to remember. It’s tricky at first, but you’ll get it!
Once you have a solid routine of pelvic floor exercises in place, prevent stress urinary incontinence by training your pelvic floor to be strong during an abdominal contraction or while coughing or sneezing. When you sense a sneeze or cough coming, squeeze your pelvic floor to support your bladder.
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