Firstly it’s important to understand that pelvic floor exercises, also known as kegels, are not recommended for everyone, and in fact can make certain conditions worse. Women can develop overactive, tight and/or tender pelvic floor muscles, especially if they experience pelvic pain which may or may not relate to painful periods, pain with intimacy and sexual intercourse, as well as pain with the use of tampons or during vaginal examinations. This is why it is essential that you have an evaluation from a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist prior to embarking on a pelvic floor exercise program.
Pelvic floor exercise steps
Step 1. Relax
Prior to doing the exercise it is important that you are able to fully relax. A good way to do this is to take 4-5 deep belly breaths and think about letting go of the tummy, pelvic floor, buttocks and thighs.
Step 2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing around the urethra, vagina and anus, and lifting upwards towards your belly button – ‘squeeze and lift’. Hold each contraction for as long as your physiotherapist has recommended and then relax and release these muscles – ‘let go’.
Check out this video for a great 3D visual of your pelvic floor muscles:
Step 3. Remember to isolate the pelvic floor
It is important to isolate the pelvic floor muscle during your training program, do not tighten your thighs or buttocks, and no movement should occur at your pelvis or back.
You may feel your lower abdominal muscles gently tighten and draw in towards your spine as you contract your pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor is working correctly, these muscles work well together. It is important not to bear down or strain while contracting your pelvic floor muscles. You should breathe normally and comfortably during your training program.
There is strong evidence to support the role of physiotherapists with additional training in women’s and pelvic health to treat a number of conditions across all life stages – from more commonly known pelvic health issues affecting women such as incontinence and prolapse, to pelvic and sexual pain concerns and also for helping children and adolescents with bed wetting or other bladder/bowel control concerns.
We hope the information in this blog has been useful and should always be considered in conjunction with an individual assessment with your physiotherapist and/or other health care provider skilled in the area such as a GP or gynaecologist.
We would love to help you manage your concerns and get you back achieving your goals worry –free!