Myth vs Fact: Pelvic Floor Exercises
Written by Joint Ventures Physical Therapy
The pelvic floor isn’t something that’s commonly talked about – at least not openly in many circles. As a result, there are a number of myths surrounding it.
Are kegels the only pelvic floor exercises for women? Do pelvic floor exercises for men even exist? But wait, are pelvic floors something only pregnant women should be concerned about?
The questions go on.
So, let’s dice out some facts about pelvic floor exercises, including who they’re for, what they are, and how to do them. What should you know?
Myth #1: Only women have a pelvic floor and should do exercises for it.
Okay, so if you’re a male, how can you practice tightening your pelvic floor? Here’s a step-by-step of pelvic floor exercises for men:
- Stop urination midstream to identify what the pelvic floor muscles are.
- Once you’ve identified them, you can start practicing pelvic floor exercises.
- Contract or tighten these muscles.
- Hold them for 3-5 seconds.
- Release, and try doing a few reps in a row to start.
- Once you become stronger, gradually start increasing your reps. Aim for 10-12 repetitions, 2-3 times per day.
- TIP: Make sure to breathe throughout the contraction. Try to be conscious about whether or not you’re contracting other muscles during this pelvic floor exercise.
Myth #2: After pregnancy, accidents and leakage are normal so postpartum pelvic floor exercises aren’t important.
A degree of urinary incontinence is normal after pregnancy. However, most women do need to perform pelvic floor exercises after birth to prevent more severe forms of these accidents or leaks from happening and to return to a state where they don’t occur at all. Urinary incontinence is not something to brush off as ‘normal.’ Pelvic floor exercises for women’s health can be helpful, and you’ll want to practice tightening these muscles on a regular basis.
So, how does that work for women? Here’s your how-to in pelvic floor muscle engagement for women:
- Similar to men, the pelvic floor muscles are easy to identify by stopping urination midstream. This is your starting point.
- Now imagine picking up a marble with these muscles. Visualize tightening around it, and hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Gradually increase this time to 5-10 seconds.
- Aim to be able to perform these pelvic floor exercises for postpartum recovery with 10-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Myth #3: Pelvic floor exercises are only useful when the muscles become weakened by pregnancy.
False! There are a variety of activities that can cause weak pelvic floor muscles and that pelvic floor exercises are useful for. Some examples include pelvic floor exercises for constipation, urinary incontinence, and women can even perform pelvic floor exercises after a hysterectomy to improve their recovery. While pelvic floor exercises for pregnant women are important, these exercises are for all women and men. Especially when you consult a physical therapist on pelvic floor exercises to perform step-by-step and the right treatment plan, you can address many common problems.
The pelvic floor may also become weakened through heavy lifting activities, straining on the toilet, coughing, intense exercise, excess weight, and from age. That’s why everyone should practice pelvic floor exercises.
Myth #4: You don’t need any other pelvic floor exercises besides kegels.
Here’s the thing: Your pelvic floor muscles may become affected by a weak and unused core. The core is the foundation of strength in the body. It provides stability, coordination, and balance.
In other words, you may need to focus in on amping up your core strength while also performing pelvic floor exercises. Just targeting your pelvic floor with kegels could potentially lead to more problems, such as spasms, when your core is the ultimate culprit.
So, What Exercises Should I Do and Habits I Should Form for Healthy Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Don’t use the bathroom when you don’t need to. Waiting until your bladder is full is recommended, or else you could jeopardize the pelvic floor muscles.
Don’t strain when on the toilet. If you find yourself straining regularly while on the toilet, you should get checked out by your family doctor. Find out what is really going on and why. That way, you can pave the way toward fixing it.
Exercise them! Pelvic floor exercises after birth, for urinary incontinence, and more are very effective. If you’re not entirely sure what you are doing or what you should be doing, a session with a physical therapist for a step-by-step walk-through of the pelvic floor exercises can help. Plus, your physical therapist will be able to show you various exercises and options suited for you and your body specifically.
Not sure where to find a PT with experience in pelvic floor exercises and issues? Use the BetterPT website or download the BetterPT app to book an appointment with qualified clinics like Joint Ventures Physical Therapy. Whether you’re a man, a pregnant woman, or really anybody, finding a physical therapist that specializes in the pelvic floor near you can be incredibly beneficial.