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One in four women experience pelvic floor problems which can lead to incontinence or even prolapse.
Pelvic floor exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor — the sling of muscles that support the bladder, bowel and uterus — which can weaken with ageing and after child birth.
Exercises can be done sitting down, standing up, or lying down, and involve actively tightening and lifting your pelvic floor muscles at different intervals.
Pelvic floor physiotherapist Angela James said women should start in a comfortable position and follow the steps below:
- 1. Squeeze the muscles around the front of your pelvis — imagine you’re stopping urination then squeezing the vaginal walls together
- 2. Pull up through the back passage as if you’re stopping wind
- 3. Let go
- 4. Do this ten times at maximum capacity without the allowing other muscles to help
Once this is mastered, Ms James said women should move on to pelvic floor endurance exercise.
“You do the same exercise but hold it a little less intensely and hold it over a longer period of time,” she said.
“It’s like going for a jog instead of a sprint.”
- 1. Hold the position (as detailed above) for ten seconds in a relaxed state
- 2. Finish with ten quick pulses to get quick fibres moving
- 3. Repeat ten times
- 4. Ms James said quick pulses help to turn the pelvic floor on for things like sneezing, coughing and jumping.
She encouraged women to do exercises daily.
“If you get this done most days and really commit to twice a day, that would be amazing,” she said.
She added because many women have difficulty locating the right muscles and practicing the correct technique, it may be helpful to work with a pelvic floor physiotherapist or nurse.
Over time, strengthening these muscles with regular exercise can help women to prevent pelvic floor weakness and reduce symptoms of prolapse.
To hear more from Angela James, listen to the latest episode of Ladies, We Need To Talk.
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