Updated: Mar 29
So what exercises do you do to strengthen your pelvic floor? And how often should you do them?
So here I talk about traditional 'kegel' exercises, designed to strengthen your pelvic floor. There is a core strengthening world beyond kegels (think a continuum), but this is 100% where you start. Follow these instructions on how to do your kegels. There are two types: one that focuses on your endurance, and the other speed.
Start by focusing on your breathing and try to breathe into your tummy and lower ribs. You want to feel the expansion in your tummy and your ribs, both at the sides and the back. You will need to let your tummy muscles 'go' on the inhale. This goes against what we 'want' to do as we're often so used to 'sucking it in', either as a stress response or to look 'thinner'.
Next, locate your pelvic floor muscles – these are the ones you would use to stop yourself doing a wee or a fart!
Try to quickly pull your pelvic floor up all the way to the top and then allow it to FULLY relax / drop back down - try not to clench your bottom or suck your tummy in. Focus on the pelvic floor. Imagining sucking up a marble or a grape can help!
Repeat 10 times relaxing fully in-between each contraction
As you breathe out try to pull the muscles up to the maximum again and hold for up to 10 seconds. Then let them FULLY relax. It’s really important that you don’t hold you breath whilst you are trying to do these exercises (i.e breathe over the top of the contraction).
Don’t worry if you don’t get to 10 seconds to begin with….that’s why you’re doing the exercises in the first
Repeat up to 10 times, relaxing fully in-between each contraction
Ideally, you would do both these types of exercises 3 x a day until your pelvic floor is strong again and then once a day FOR LIFE to maintain. The harsh reality is that after kids we just need to do it and really is just no exceptions.
Apps (NHS squeezy is great) and timers can help remind you. Or tie it in to another routine - whilst cleaning teeth, showering or before you go to sleep for example.
If you have any concerns about your pelvic floor, or aren't sure if you are doing your exercises correctly, then really do go and see a women's health physio - you can either be referred by your GP or can go privately. I've been and it really is ok!