Pelvic Floor Exercises

Feeling unsure or lost about how to do pelvic floor exercises, whilst being told they’re incredibly important and must be done correctly?

The pelvic floor. Most of us have heard of it. Some of us know how to exercise it, but few of us really understand why it’s so integral to our well-being, and how unique it really is. So, let’s explore.

The pelvic floor is a hammock-like structure that sits at the base of the pelvis.  It is quite unique from other muscles because it has 6 different functions:

  1. Controls our bladder
  2. Controls our bowel
  3. Assists with orgasm and sexual desire
  4. Supports the internal organs
  5. Assists in stabilising the pelvis when you move
  6. Rotates the baby’s head during labour

Considering the pelvic floor does all of this for us, you can see why keeping it strong throughout your life is so important. If you don’t keep it strong, you may experience urinary or faecal incontinence, urgency, issues with sexual function, pain or difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel.

Recent UK guidelines suggest that girls should start pelvic floor exercises in their teenage years to prevent pelvic floor issues in the future. So, if you haven’t started, now’s the time. The age-old expression ‘prevention is better than cure’ definitely rings true. It is infinitely easier to strengthen your pelvic floor before symptoms of weakness start to appear.

There is no finer example of this than during pregnancy. People should start their pelvic floor exercises before they’re pregnant, or as soon as they can. Up to 70% of people complete their pelvic floor exercises incorrectly.

So if you’re pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, it’s really important to see a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist to check your pelvic floor technique and ensure you are completing the exercises correctly. Sometimes adaptations to the exercises need to be made depending on the strength and tension in the pelvic floor, and your pelvic health physio will ensure that the exercises are tailored to your specific needs.

Menopause and perimenopause are the other stages in a woman’s life that have a profound effect on our pelvic floor.

For some, this may be the first time they start to experience symptoms of weakness. Our pelvic floors are highly reliant on oestrogen to function optimally. During menopause and perimenopause these levels drop dramatically, and this makes the pelvic floor weaker and less responsive. The bladder, which also requires oestrogen to function effectively, becomes more sensitised and this can lead to increased urinary urgency. So we suddenly become more reliant on our pelvic floors to assist with bladder function.

The key is to strengthen the pelvic floor before you approach menopause, or peri menopause, to prevent symptoms developing. However, if you are going through the menopause and you haven’t started them, it’s not too late!

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, so – just like pretty much all the muscles in your body – with the right exercises, you can always make them stronger. It is never too late.

If you’d like to speak to one of our specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapists, please complete the following enquiry form and we’ll contact you to arrange a convenient time.

Self-paid pelvic floor consultations can also be booked online.

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