Hello again, ladies! Welcome to part 2 of our Women’s Health blog! In part 1 of the blog, I have explained why we need to be able to activate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. For all the pregnant ladies out there, you should read this blog till the end. If you’re suffering from bladder incontinence or prolapses, these exercises are a must. No more excuses, get started now!
First of all, what is pelvic floor muscle? It is a group of muscles that holds your pelvic organs in place. Additionally, they are responsible to prevent leakages by providing closure forces onto the urethra, vagina, and rectum. Below is a little bit of the anatomy of your pelvic floor and organs. When you activate your muscles, they will shorten, and that is how your pelvic floor muscles can create closure forces.
How should you activate your pelvic floor muscles? The most common way to see if you can do it is by trying to slow your urine flow mid-stream. As you let go or relax the muscles, you should be able to feel it relaxing, too. Remember how you do it, and how it feels, because you are going to try and activate them again while just sitting down or doing chores at home.
After you are familiar with how the activation works, you are going to perform the exercises in 2 ways. Number one, you have to be able to improve endurance of the muscles, by holding the contraction for a period of time. This is important because your pelvic floor muscles mainly work in low tone, and long durations. Try holding your activation for 30 seconds straight at 80% of maximum effort. If you can, great! You just have to repeat that exercise 5 times. If you can’t, no problem. You can hold your activation for as long as you can, for 5 times. Have 5 seconds of rest in between repetitions. Breathe during the exercise.
Exercise number 2 focuses on improving power to prevent leakage when you are sneezing, coughing or lifting heavy objects. For this exercise, you are going to activate your pelvic floor muscles at 100% of maximum effort, instead of 80%. Hold it for 5 seconds only. Remember to maintain normal pattern of breathing. Repeat this exercise for 30 times, or until fatigued.
Try these exercises while lying down on your back with your knees bent, or sitting upright. When you are getting the hang of it, try different positions (eg. on all fours, standing up). As you become more familiar, and are able to contract your muscles well, try activating it while you’re performing household chores (eg. washing dishes, lifting laundry basket, etc). You must be able to hold your contraction, and concentrate on it while lifting weights at the gym or doing your jogs. Perform these exercises 2x / day for optimum results.
If you’re struggling with the aforementioned exercises, here is another tip for you. Activation of your pelvic floor muscles can be optimised when you have your Transverse Abdominus (TA) muscle working as well (Arab A, et al, 2011). This is your deepest abdominal muscle that wraps around your stomach like a corset. See the diagram below. So, by bracing your core muscle, more than likely, your pelvic floor muscles will also activate.
See how you go with these exercises. If you have more questions or are unsure about anything, let us know. It might be tricky at the start, but practice makes perfect. Consistency is key here. Just like any other muscles, when you don’t use them, they’ll weaken and waste away. Spread the word out. There are many among us who are suffering from women’s health (in particular relating to pelvic floor muscles) issues out there. I will be posting more in-depth about each condition in these coming months, so be sure to stick around. If you’d like us to cover a certain topic, drop us a DM on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach us at 9569 5145. See you again soon, ladies!
Arab, A., Chehrehrazi, M., & Arab, A. (2011). The response of the abdominal muscles to pelvic floor muscle contraction in women with and without stress urinary incontinence using ultrasound imaging. Neurourology and Urodynamics, 30(1), 117–120. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/nau.20959