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Pelvic Floor Exercises – How to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles

Pelvic Floor Exercises are used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which can help with bladder and bowel problems such as incontinence. They are also important in pregnancy, to prepare the pelvic area for labour and childbirth, as well as to reduce post-partum pelvic pain and improve sexual function. Like any muscle, these muscles can become weak and loose over time and need to be exercised. However, it can be challenging to identify and squeeze these muscles correctly, and it can take a lot of practice to get the hang of it. For this reason, many people are not getting the benefits they should from these exercises.

Ideally, patients should be trained to perform these exercises with the assistance of a physical therapist who is specially qualified in pelvic floor muscle training. However, in the meantime, the following tips may help.

Women and men can use a technique to locate their pelvic floor muscles by inserting their finger into the vagina and tightening the muscles as if they were trying to hold in urine (women), or by tightening their anal region (men). These are the same muscles that are tightened when passing gas. Once these muscles have been located, they can be strengthened by doing slow contractions (kneeling or sitting with the back off). A good aim is to do about 10 contractions and then fully relax them before performing another set of exercises. This should be repeated about 3 times a day.

For those who struggle to perform these exercises, it can be helpful to use electrical stimulation or biofeedback to help train the muscles. These techniques record electromyography (EMG) and manometry to show how hard the muscles are working, as well as their endurance and contractility. They can also be used to provide feedback on the effectiveness of pelvic floor muscle contractions, ensuring that they are being done properly.

During pregnancy, pelvic floor exercises should be done daily to help prepare the muscles for labour and childbirth. However, they are important at all stages of life to prevent bladder and bowel problems, such as incontinence and prolapse. In fact, a strong pelvic floor is key to reducing incontinence after childbirth and can even shorten the second stage of labour.

When doing these exercises, it is essential to only tighten the pelvic floor muscles and not other muscles, such as the stomach, thigh, buttock or leg muscles. It can be difficult to distinguish between these different muscles, so it is recommended that a health care professional is involved in the training process to make sure that the exercises are being performed correctly. Once they are being done correctly, Kegel exercises can be very effective at improving urinary continence. In addition, it is a good idea to do them in various positions throughout the day. This is because each position can work different muscles and will improve the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. Keeping a diary or an exercise log can be useful for keeping track of the number of Kegels that have been completed.

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