What’s the appeal of Pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy can prevent bladder control problems, like urinary incontinence, and leakage when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or strain (often symptoms of a type of urinary incontinence called stress incontinence). Weakening of pelvic muscles result from pregnancy, childbirth, aging, hormones associated with menopause, and straining these muscles due to constipation, chronic cough, or being overweight.
Pelvic floor muscle training exercises are recommended for:
- Women with urinary stress incontinence
- Men with urinary stress incontinence after prostate surgery
- People who have fecal incontinence
As mentioned, Pelvic Floor strengthening can be done at home, or with the help of a specialist. Pelvic floor therapy specifically can help you figure out to best target your body, and help you work on a strengthening routine that best suits you.
Let's take a step back, what are pelvic muscles?
Pelvic muscles are located at the base of your core. They stretch like a trampoline or hammock from the pubic bone back to the tailbone. Pelvic muscles support the bladder, bowel and uterus. When these muscles contract, the organs are lifted and tightened, preventing accidental urination, bowel movements, and gas. When these muscles relax, you are able to urinate and have a bowel movement. These muscles also play a role in sexual pleasure and the birthing process. Pelvic floor therapy will help make all of these activities more comfortable and/or pleasurable. One can make sure that you are keeping your pelvic floor strong and healthy through pelvic floor therapy done by practicing at home, or with a pelvic floor PT.
What are some ways that pelvic floor therapy helps to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
If you are wondering how to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, the pelvic floor muscle training exercises used in pelvic floor therapy can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles under the uterus, bladder, and bowel (large intestine). They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control.
A pelvic floor muscle training exercise is like pretending that you have to urinate, and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It is important to find the right muscles to tighten, again a specialist can best help you figure out how to properly do these exercises so you can strengthen at home.
How do you achieve a strong pelvic floor?
Daily exercises can strengthen pelvic floor muscles so they function well. The most popular exercise is kegels to directly work on the pelvic muscles, but other exercises like a glute bridge and bird dogs can help make for a strong pelvic floor. These exercises are commonly prescribed in pelvic floor therapy, and a specialist can best direct you on which will be most effective for managing your symptoms of pelvic floor.
When you expand and contract pelvic floor muscles on purpose, you are doing an exercise called “kegels.”. Kegels can be done anywhere, sitting, standing, or laying down—and no one will notice. Contract and tighten your muscles for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds. Make sure you are pulling up, not pushing down. Remember to breathe. Repeat this 10 times in a row, 3-5 times a day to begin working towards a strong pelvic floor.
If done correctly, the bridge activates the pelvic floor as well as the glutes. One should lie flat on their back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet close to your body. Keep your head, feet, and arms on the floor. Push through your heels to lift your pelvis off the ground and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat.
Get into a tabletop position (on all fours) with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Brace your core (this is a balance challenge!) and lift your opposite arm and opposite leg straight while keeping your head and neck in a neutral position (looking straight down). Hold for two seconds, and alternate.
How long will it take to strengthen pelvic floor muscles?
Pelvic floor therapy can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to 6 months of exercises before your bladder control improves. How much you need to do this may differ by age, and the state of your pelvic floor, additionally if there are specific symptoms you are trying to prevent or target.
If you continue having trouble controlling your bladder, speak with your healthcare provider about your options.
Want More on Pelvic Health Therapy?
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