6 Tips for Safe Pelvic Floor Exercise

Whether you are currently pregnant, recovering from giving birth, or are having incontinence issues, it is possible you have weakness through your pelvic floor. Having a weak pelvic floor can increase your risk of prolapse or exacerbate pre-existing incontinence issues. It is important and encouraged to exercise daily, but how do we know how to exercise safely, without putting more strain on the pelvic floor?
 
Follow these 6 simple tips on how to modify an exercise program allowing it to be safer for the pelvic floor. 
 
Whether you are currently pregnant, recovering from giving birth, or are having incontinence issues, it is possible you have weakness through your pelvic floor. Having a weak pelvic floor can increase your risk of prolapse or exacerbate pre-existing incontinence issues. It is important and encouraged to exercise daily, but how do we know how to exercise safely, without putting more strain on the pelvic floor?
 
Follow these 6 simple tips on how to modify an exercise program allowing it to be safer for the pelvic floor. 
 
1) Avoid heavy lifting/ resistance training
When returning to resistance training after a break or pregnancy, always drop the weights and start with a lighter, more manageable weight. If you know you have pelvic floor weakness, start doing exercises without additional weights (i.e. body weight training) until you have adequately strengthened your pelvic floor. If you do not know how to strengthen your pelvic floor, please speak to Sophie about specific exercises.
 
2) Reduce the size of the lift
If you have a known pelvic floor condition, reduce the range through which you are lifting. For example aim to lift weights from waist height only, rather than lifting weights from the ground. This will reduce the load going through the pelvic floor which is often increased when lifting from a lower height.
 
3)  Engage your pelvic floor muscles
Try and engage your pelvic floor muscles before any increase in load- including everyday activities such as coughing, sneezing and lifting groceries. When performing resistance exercises, squeeze and draw up your pelvic floor muscles before lifting a weight and hold this contraction through the lift. It is just as important to completely relax your pelvic floor muscles at the end of the set or repetition. When lifting your pelvic floor you should not brace your abdominal muscles as this will increase the downward pressure on the pelvic floor. If you are unsure if you are performing the correct pelvic floor contraction, come in to have it checked as the wrong contraction can be worse than no contraction at all! 
 
4) Do not hold your breath
When performing resistance exercise, never hold your breath or suck your tummy in. This increases the downward strain on the pelvic floor. Try to breathe comfortably during any exercise, focusing on exhaling with any effort such as a lift, push or pull.

 

5) Position yourself to provide support
When performing resistance exercises, try and perform the exercises sitting or lying down where possible to reduce the pressure through the pelvic floor. For example bicep curls can be performed in both sitting and lying. Another option when completing upper body exercise is to sit on an exercise ball. This will provide support for your pelvic floor whilst helping activate the inner abdominal muscles. When performing standing exercises, ensure your feet are close together as this will make it easier to contract your pelvic floor. For example when squatting start with your feet hip width apart and gradually move into wide leg squats.

 

6) Do not push through exercises that exacerbate symptoms

If you experience any incontinence during exercise do not continue to perform this exercise until you have completed an individualised pelvic floor strength program. Common exercises that can cause incontinence include running, star jumps, burpees and squat jumps. Sophie can measure the strength of your pelvic floor and go through a specific program to target muscle strength, coordination or endurance. There are supports that can be used if muscle training fails and Sophie can discuss this further with you if you have any questions. Other considerations include general fatigue levels (the pelvic floor gets tired after a day on your feet) and lower back pain. This can reduce the ability of the pelvic floor to contract effectively. Ensure you rest between repetitions and exercises, especially if you are finding it hard to contract your pelvic floor towards the end of a work out 

If you have any queries on the above tips or feel that you would like to make an appintment to see Sophie please call us on 02 9968 3424.