PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, from your pubic bone (front) to the base of your spine (back). They are shaped like a sling and hold your bladder and urethra (the organ where urine is stored and passed out from) in place.
The pelvic floor muscles help support the bladder and bowel and give control when urinating.
They relax at the same time as the bladder contracts (tightens) in order to let the urine out.
KEEPING PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES STRONG
Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgeries, aging and being overweight. Problems can be caused due to weak pelvic muscles, such as urinary incontinence (losing control over passing of urine). Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where small amounts of urine leak out during an activity. Pelvic floor exercises can help improve stress incontinence by keeping the pelvic muscles strong. Both men and women can do pelvic floor exercises.
HOW TO DO PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES
- Knowing Your Pelvic Muscles - You can sense the pelvic floor muscles when you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. But it is not recommended that you regularly stop your flow of urine mid-stream because it can be harmful to the bladder. You may do so only once or twice to sense and feel the pelvic muscles.
- The Exercise - To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, first empty the bladder, then sit or lie down comfortably and squeeze the muscles about 10 times in a row around 3 times a day. Do not hold your breath or tighten your stomach, buttock, or thigh muscles at the same time. When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it and always have rest in between sets of squeezes.
After a few months, you should start to notice the results. Your incontinence should improve. You should carry on doing the exercises even after you notice the changes.
Patients feel that they can speed up the progress of recovery by increasing the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercises. But over-exercising can instead cause muscle fatigue and increase urine leakage.
Certain yoga postures are also known to help strengthening the pelvic muscles.
If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you can start doing pelvic floor exercises. The exercises will lower your risk of experiencing incontinence after having your baby.
MEN WHO HAVE UNDERGONE PROSTATE SURGERY
Performing pelvic floor muscle exercises after prostate surgery is essential for recovery as these muscles help you control your bladder.
Doing pelvic floor muscle exercises after surgery (whilst a urinary catheter is in place) can irritate the bladder and cause discomfort. It is therefore recommended that you do not do any exercises during this time. However, once the catheter is removed you may start the pelvic floor exercises.