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Pelvic floor muscle exercises for women

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					Are you getting the right              You should feel a definite sensation
muscles?                               of ‘letting go’. If this doesn’t
You can test if you are working the    happen, reduce the time you are
right muscles in two ways –            holding for.
1) When you are passing urine, try
to stop the flow in mid-stream, and    How much exercise is enough?             Pelvic floor
then start again. Only do this
once per fortnight. Doing this on
                                       This is a very individual thing, but
                                       the following is a good start –
                                                                                muscle
a more regular basis can interfere
with normal bladder emptying.             •   10 fast, strong squeezes -        exercises for
                                              with 2 seconds rest in
2) Place one finger about one inch
into your vagina to feel the lifting
                                              between each squeeze              women
and squeezing action. You should          •   10 long holds (up to 10
not feel a ‘pushing down’ feeling.            seconds) – with 4 seconds
                                              rest in between each
If you cannot feel any activation of
                                              squeeze
your pelvic floor muscles, please
speak to your Women’s Health           Repeat 10 short and 10 long
Physiotherapist.                       contractions 5-6 times a day. The
                                       easiest position is in lying, but you
                                       can do them in sitting or standing.
Fast and slow squeezes
                                       Build these exercises into your
The pelvic floor muscles need to be    daily routine and use a trigger to
able to activate quickly and           remind you to do them – while
strongly, but they also need good      brushing your teeth, during the ads
endurance, as they act to support      on television, after using the toilet.
the weight of your pelvic organs
throughout the day.                                                             Outpatient Physiotherapy
                                       Using the pelvic floor                   Queen Mary’s Hospital
To do fast squeezes, quickly
                                       Don’t forget to use your pelvic floor    Roehampton Lane
tighten and lift the muscles around
                                       when you most need it – squeeze          London SW15 5PN
your back and front passage as
firmly as you can, and release         every time you cough, sneeze, lift
                                                                                020 8487 6021
immediately.                           or when you are holding on.
To do longer holds, slowly tighten
and lift the muscles around your       If you have any questions about
back and front passage. Hold for       pelvic floor muscle exercises, please
as long as you can (up to 10           speak to your Women’s Health
seconds), and then let go.             Physiotherapist.
Pelvic Floor Muscles                      •   Continual straining to empty the    How to find the Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor muscles are a               bowel (constipation)                Muscles
sling of muscles extending between        •   Chronic coughing (eg smoker’s       To do pelvic floor muscle exercises
your legs from your tail bone to              cough or airways disease)           effectively, it is important that you
your pubic bone, at the front of your                                             activate the right muscles -
                                          •   Being overweight
pelvis. They literally form the ‘floor’                                               1) Sit or lie comfortably and
of your pelvis.                           •   Persistent heavy lifting                   relax the muscles of your
The urethra (urine tube), vagina          •   Changes in hormone levels                  thighs, buttocks and
(birth canal) and the rectum (back            during menopause                           abdomen
passage) pass through the pelvic
                                          •   Lack of general fitness                 2) Keep breathing normally
floor muscles.
                                                                                      3) Tighten the muscles around
                                                                                         your back passage as if you
                                          Why do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
                                                                                         are trying to stop passing
                                          It is important for all women to do            wind
                                          their pelvic floor exercises, whether
                                                                                      4) At the same time, imagine
                                          they are having bladder problems
                                                                                         you are trying to stop the
                                          or not.
                                                                                         flow of urine in mid-stream
                                          Pelvic floor exercises can help in
                                                                                      5) You should feel a ‘squeeze
                                          the following ways –
                                                                                         and lift’
                                          •   They have been proven to help
                                                                                  It is important to do this
                                              with symptoms of stress
                                              incontinence (leaking               •   Without tightening your buttocks
These muscles have            3   very
                                              associated with cough,
important functions –                                                             •   Without holding your breath
                                              sneezing, lifting, exercise)
    1) To support your abdominal
                                          •   They can also be helpful with
       organs
                                              symptoms of urgency (enabling       •   Without squeezing your legs
    2) To help maintain continence            you to hold on better)                  together
    3) To enhance sexual function         •   For pregnant women, strong          You may feel your deep stomach
                                              pelvic floor muscles help           muscles working at the same time
                                              support the growing baby and        as your pelvic floor. This is to be
Why the Pelvic Floor Muscles
                                              improve recovery after birth        expected, as the abdominal
may weaken
                                          •   For menopausal women, strong        muscles work together with the
The pelvic floor may be weakened                                                  pelvic floor to assist with core
                                              pelvic floor muscles can reduce
due to                                                                            stability.
                                              the symptoms of pelvic organ
•   Childbirth and pregnancy                  prolapse


                                                                                                Version 1 – September 2006

				
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