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How to strengthen your pelvic floor… and why you’ll want to

Did you know that the pelvic floor muscles are the ones that actually contract when you have a powerful orgasm? Now I have your attention, let’s talk about the real issues regarding your pelvic floor! Health professionals harp on about it… so let me explain why.

What actually is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that I like to explain, acts as a sling or hammock down there in our never-never. This sling runs from the public bone at the front to the tail bone at the back and its function is most simply to hold everything up in there! The pelvic floor helps to provide support for our bladder, bowel, uterus and vagina. It also functionally helps with bladder and bowel control. It supports our internal organs and helps with sexual function. If your pelvic floor is weak, you may experience any or all of the following symptoms:
  • Incontinence (bladder or bowel)
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Prolapse
  • Uncontrollable breaking of wind
  • Swelling or heaviness in the vaginal area
A lot of these symptoms can be embarrassing, and unfortunately, this is why we don’t often talk about it and get the help we need. It’s time to break the stigma! While pelvic floor issues don’t just affect women, it is certainly more common for us to experience them due to pregnancy and childbirth. Other causes of pelvic floor weakness that are not only limited to women include:
  • Increasing age
  • Surgery
  • Obesity
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic constipation
Time to test it! So let’s all do a little test in the comfort of our own home to see if our pelvic floor is strong enough. Next time you pee, see if you can halt your urine flow mid-stream. Now only try this once as it’s not good for our bladder to do it continually. Squeeze up and in… can you stop it?? If not your pelvic floor is probably weak… and it’s time to strengthen it!

Exercise time!
Ok so for those of you that are used to sweating it out at the gym or crunching those abs at pilates, this is going to seem as boring. But small, simple exercises are what will strengthen your pelvic floor. So this is how we do it… start in a sitting position, no one will even know you are doing it. I’m currently doing it as I sit in my local cafe writing this!
  1. Warm-up: slowly squeeze up and in around your vagina and release slow and gently. Imagine squeezing a tampon that’s inside you. Repeat 4-5 times.
  2. Holds: Now do 10 x 5 seconds holds (rest between)
  3. Quick flicks: squeeze up and in quickly and strongly x 10 (this is needed to be trained for when we cough and sneeze to prevent any whoopsies)
      You can then progress all of these exercises to standing!
      Do them all 4-5 times daily — don't hold your breath.

      HOT TIP: Choose a recurring event like your phone ringing or getting a DM as a reminder to do your exercises.
      If you think you have any pelvic floor weakness or prolapse see your GP or Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

      Written by Shannan Ballin, The Feel Good Physio

      Shannan has been a Physiotherapist for over 14 years. She is the mum of 3 beautiful young children with a very active family life. She is a lover of coffee, cocktails, and sport. Having lived in Sydney for a number of years, she has now returned to her home town of Brisbane and is practising as a physiotherapist out of Family Doctors Plus in Windsor, Brisbane.