Pelvic floor muscle training often forms the basis of intervention programs that we use with our clients to manage conditions such as:
- Urinary incontinence
- Bowel incontinence and
In order to complete a muscle training program, it is essential to be able to find and 'switch on' the pelvic floor muscles.
This can prove challenging for many and it is especially so because the pelvic floor is an 'internal' muscle group and you can't see it moving.
As pelvic floor physiotherapists we use internal examinations to confirm the correct contraction of the pelvic floor before sending someone away with a training program. This is essential as it may be ineffective (at best) or harmful (at worst) if you are performing your pelvic floor contraction incorrectly. Research studies also tell us that only about half of people, when assessed, perform their exercises correctly. Up to 25% of women, unfortunately, demonstrate an incorrect muscular contraction that could actually promote incontinence.
A correct pelvic floor contraction should feel like a gentle 'squeeze' and 'lift' at the base of the pelvis where the muscles are located. You definitely should NOT feel a sense of straining or 'bearing down'.
When we teach a correct pelvic floor action, we often provide visual 'cues'. You might like to try the following 'cues' to help to identify your pelvic floor muscles correctly:
1. Imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine (Don't actually do this when emptying)
2. Imagine you are trying to stop passing wind
3. Imagine you are sitting on a silk scarf and you are trying to lift this upwards through your vagina (for women) OR
4. Imagine you are trying to shorten your penis (for men)
When complete, don't forget to release and relax the pelvic floor muscles again.
If you're still in doubt, book an appointment with one of our experienced pelvic floor physiotherapists to have your pelvic floor assessed and technique confirmed.
I'll leave you with this short video (watch the first 3 mins) which gives another great visual cue for activating your pelvic floor - the 'Jellyfish'!
Bump, R. C., Hurt, W. G., Fantl, J. A., & Wyman, J. F. (1991). Assessment of Kegel pelvic muscle exercise performance after brief verbal instruction. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 165(2), 322-329.