‘I don’t have time today but I’ll start tomorrow and I’ll do them every day…’
It’s great to have good intentions, but it’s really hard to manifest that into something that works in your daily life. The easiest way to make a new habit is to link it to another part of your daily routine that already exists. So maybe, brushing your teeth, waiting at traffic lights, boiling the kettle or just before you go to bed. Make something that reminds you to do them – it doesn’t have to be a big flashing sign saying ‘DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES!’, it just needs to be a little visual cue such as a little sticker or a post it note. We’d all like to be able to chase our kids round the garden or run for the bus without fear of leaking.
Leaking is unfortunately very common amongst women due to hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, birth, menopause, but it is not ‘normal’ functioning of the body. It is a muscle that can be trained just like any other muscle in the body. And remember even if you don’t have kids, you still need to do them! We focus on the back, abs and pelvic floor in my pregnancy and parent and baby classes but you’ll hear me talk about it in my women’s classes too because it’s so important throughout our lives.
Try 10 squeezes and releases once or twice a day, with 3 longer holds of 5-10 seconds (whatever feels comfortable initially). It won’t take any time at all and before you know it, you’ll be doing it without feeling like it’s a chore. Once it’s routine, increase to 5 x 10 second holds (don’t hold your breath) along with 10 quick squeezes. Aim to build up to 3 sets daily with 10 x 10 second holds and 10 quick squeezes.
There are so many awesome visualisations for doing your pelvic floor exercises
· holding in wind
· picking up a blueberry
· imagining a clock face and bringing 12 (pubic bone) and 6 (tail bone) together and then lifting up 3 and 9
· elevator going up and down (you can also stop at each floor)
…find one that works for you. Got a good one? Let me know below in comments!
Bored of simple kegels?
Here are some simple exercises you can do to engage your pelvic floor. Make sure you breathe out on the effort.
· Bridge pose – Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip width on your mat. Exhale to lift pelvic floor, tuck the tailbone and press the hips up. Engage the glutes and press the feet into the floor to lift higher. Inhale to slowly lower, rolling down through the spine)
· Squats – Inhale to lower. Exhale to come back up. Purse the lips and blow the air out. As you do this your pelvic floor will naturally lift. Press your hips forward at the top.
· Clam shell – Lying on your side, bend your knees and support your head. Keep your ankles, hips and shoulders in a line. Exhale, lift the top knee up, keeping the heels together. Keep the hips/torso still (it can help to bring the top hand to your hip). Inhale to lower. Repeat.
Relaxing your pelvic floor is just as important as being able to hold. Do this after every strengthening session. Some great positions for relaxing your pelvic floor are:
· Childs pose
· Happy baby
Need an extra reminder? Try and NHS Squeezy App on your phone. You can set times to remind you as well as squeeze along with the app.
Struggling to feel your pelvic floor?
Start lying down or in childs pose. Once you feel comfortable with the sensation and feeling the lift, progress to seated, and then to standing.
Still leaking or have pain?
It can take time for improvements to show. Work alongside a women’s health physio to do an overall assessment and find out if there are any other factors at play and build a program specific to you. A physio can also do an internal check to see how effectively you are lifting your pelvic floor. They can also assess you for a tight/overactive pelvic floor or prolapse.
It can really affect our mental health and be incredibly demoralising to have pelvic floor weakness so it’s important that you seek help and don’t put up with it. Do not suffer in silence. You are not alone and it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Get in touch for local recommendations for pelvic health physios.