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Pelvic Floor

Singapore physiotherapy prenatal

By Katherine Macfarlane

(BSc Physiotherapy)

What is your pelvic floor and where is it?

Your pelvic floor are a group of muscles that circle and support all the organs of the pelvis – your bowels, uterus and bladder. They act as a support for these organs when you jump, sneeze, cough and lift heavy things.

It also controls the openings of these organs, which pass through it:

  • The urethra – the tube which you pass urine through
  • The vagina – birth canal, important during intercourse
  • The anus – back passage, through which you open your bowels

Sometimes the pelvic floor can weaken. If this happens you may experience a range of symptoms including:

  • A tendency to leak urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze. This is called stress urinary incontinence
  • A need to go to the toilet frequently during the day or night. This is called frequency
  • An urgent need to visit the toilet and leaking before you get there or if you don’t go. This is called urge incontinence
  • An inability to control the passing of wind from your back passage
Who should do pelvic floor exercises?

EVERYONE! All women need to do pelvic floor exercises throughout their lives. Pelvic floor muscles may become weak:

  • Following childbirth
  • Through a lack of exercise
  • After the menopause
  • Following surgery
  • By having a high BMI
  • By straining to open your bowels
  • By having a chronic cough

Pelvic floor exercises help strengthen your muscles so that they can support your organs well again. This will improve your bladder/ bowel control and improve or stop any leakage. Younger women should perform preventative exercises so that their pelvic floor is strong and less likely to give them problems later in life, or after having children.

How to perform pelvic floor exercises:

With time, and practice you can perform these exercises anywhere (even on the MRT!) but to begin with, sit comfortably on a chair, with your feet on the floor.

There are two types of exercises to perform; slow twitch and fast twitch. Each time you exercise your pelvic floor, always perform slow twitch exercises followed by fast twitch.

To perform the slow twitch exercises:

  1. Close and draw up the muscles around back passage, as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Make sure that you do not contract your buttock muscles while you do this.
  2. Now close and draw up the muscles around your vagina and urethra, as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, don’t hold your breath, and try to breathe normally
  4. Then relax and let go
  5. Repeat 10 times.

To perform the fast twitch exercises:

  1. Repeat stages 1 and 2 from above
  2. Hold for 1 second and then relax for 1 seconds
  3. Repeat 10 times or until your muscles feel tired

The pelvic floor muscles tire easily and you will probably notice that to begin with, it takes a lot of concentration to do these exercises correctly.

If you find that the muscles ‘let go’ too quickly and that you cannot hold for a count of five, just hold them for as long as you can. Use this as your starting point. For example, if you can only hold the contraction for a count of four, then every time you do your exercises, contract the muscles for a count of four. Gradually try to work up to five, then six, until you can hold the contraction for ten seconds and ten repetitions.Repeat your pelvic floor exercises three times per day

It is important to try not to squeeze your buttocks together, bring your knees together, hold your breath or lift your shoulders/ eyebrows or toes upwards. If you do any of these, you are not tightening your muscles correctly.

Finally, do not expect instant results!

It will take several weeks of regular exercise to regain the strength in your pelvic floor muscles. You need to do these exercises for the rest of your life. If you stop exercising, your problems will return.

Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at katherine@radiancephysiofit.com.sg