When it comes to the integrity of the pelvic floor, prevention is better than cure – start now. By Esther Au Yong
Pelvic floor exercises should be done by both men and women. (Photo: 123rf.com/vgstudio)
The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone (in front) to the end of the backbone.
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may find that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze or strain. While both sexes should practise pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) to strengthen the muscles, being pregnant and giving birth may stretch and weaken a woman’s pelvic floor more.
You shouldn’t wait till you get pregnant or have stress incontinence before starting on pelvic floor exercises. The pelvic floor tends to weaken with age and menopause can make it worse.
Here’s a guide on how to start doing pelvic floor exercises from the Mayo Clinic:
- Identify the right muscles. To find your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles. You can do the exercises in any position – yes, even while in the queue for your cup of coffee – although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five counts, and then relax for five counts. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Breathe freely during the exercises.
- Do them daily. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. You can break this up and do them at different times during the day.