All About The Pelvic Floor
Men & Women
The pelvic floor is a subject many people want to avoid but it is so important to understand how it works and how to strengthen it. The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. You can do pelvic floor exercises almost any time. Let's look at why they are important first.
Many factors can weaken you pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, child birth, surgery, ageing, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight. If you leak slightly or have a sudden urge to go to the toilet then these are signs of weak pelvic floor muscle. Don’t forget both men and women can benefit from pelvic floor exercises.
How to find your pelvic floor muscles?
You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. It's not recommended that you regularly stop your flow of urine midstream as it can be harmful to the bladder.
Pelvic floor exercises
To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10-15 times in a row.
Don't hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles at the same time.
When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds longer.
Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it and always have a rest between sets of squeezes.
After a few months, you should start to notice the results. You should carry on doing the exercises, even when you notice them starting to work.
You can do these exercises at any time of the day, try to incorporate them into your daily routine.
Engaging your pelvic floor while doing other exercise also helps to strengthen deep core muscles as well as stop any unexpected leaks.
Men also have pelvic floor muscles!
The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front.
A man’s pelvic floor muscles support his bladder and bowel (colon). The urine tube and the back passage pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
Men’s pelvic floor muscles can be made weaker by:
Surgery for bladder or bowel problems
Coughing that goes on for a long time (such as smoker’s cough, bronchitis or asthma)
Not being fit.
Men with stress incontinence – that is, men who wet themselves when they cough, sneeze or are active – will find pelvic floor muscle training can help in getting over this problem. Pelvic floor muscle training may also be of use for men who have an urgent need to pass urine more often (called urge incontinence). Men who have problems with bowel control might find pelvic floor muscle training can help the muscle that closes the back passage. This muscle is one of the pelvic floor muscles.
Where are my pelvic floor muscles?
The first thing to do is to find out which muscles you need to train.
Sit or lie down with thighs and buttocks relaxed.
Squeeze the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Now relax this muscle. Squeeze and let go a couple of times until you are sure you have found the right muscles. Try not to squeeze your bum.
When you go to the toilet to empty your bladder, try to stop the stream of urine, then start it again. Do this to learn which muscles are the right ones to use - but only once a week. Your bladder may not empty the way it should if you stop and start your stream more often than that.
How do I do pelvic floor muscle training?
Now that you can feel the muscles working, you can:
Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your urine tube and back passage at the same time. Lift them UP inside. You should have a sense of “lift” each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight as you count to 8. Now, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of “letting go”.
Repeat (squeeze and lift) and let go. It is best to rest for about 8 seconds in between each lift up of the muscles. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold for as long as you can.
Repeat this “squeeze and lift” as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 12 squeezes. Try to do three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes each, with a rest in between.
Do this whole training plan (three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes) every day while lying down, sitting or standing.
As you are doing these exercises remember to breathe, only squeeze and lift, do not tighten your glutes and keep your thighs relaxed.