Be sure to avoid the final five of the top ten errors when doing pelvic floor exercises, and check the previous post for the first five!
1. You’re breathing too shallow or too deep.
Easy does it – natural breathing is the way to go.
Shallow breathing may mean you don’t have the right pattern of contraction. Yet, in my clinic I see many women who are breathing too deeply, and losing the contraction as they go – especially when the muscles are weak and poorly co-ordinated. When your muscles are rip-roaring fantastic, you can usually hold them while breathing any old way you like.
2. You’re holding your breath.
This is bad news! If you’re holding your breath while you do your pelvic floors, you may as well not be doing them. If try as you might, you can’t hold and breathe at the same time, you need a specialist pelvic floor physio. Believe me, we have ways!
If you breathe in when you tighten your pelvic floor, you teach the muscles to only hold then, and to let go when you breathe out. The pelvic floor muscles are postural muscles – that is, they should be ”switched on” through your daily activities. Train them with natural breathing.
3. You’re not holding for long enough.
A lot of women are taught to do ”quick squeezes”.
When the coordination is poor or the muscles are weak, this does nothing for the muscles. Unless your muscles have been specifically assessed, concentrate on learning to hold for the length of one natural breath in and out, then build up to 10 seconds.
4. You’re just not getting around to it.
When I ask patients how often they do them, the common answer is ”well, I try to do…” or, ”I aim to do…”
Sorry, but this is one situation where it is not the thought that counts! Set a goal with your physio, and stick to it. If you fall off the wagon, do more to offset the break.
5. The only time you think about the pelvic floor is when you do the exercises.
Although many people need to improve the strength of these muscles, the bottom line is, they are ”functional” muscles.
Strong muscles are great, but if you don’t use them in your daily function – lifting toddlers, washing the car, vacuuming, jogging, coughing, gardening – you may as well not have them! Put your pelvic floor to work. Getting them working while you’re active will help you reap the benefits of a strong back, good bladder control and good sexual awareness.
It’s easy to make these common mistakes – but now you know what they are, be on the look out for them. If you aren’t making these mistakes, there’s a good chance your pelvic floor will be working well for you. If you have checked and don’t think you’re making these mistakes, but don’t seem to be getting results with your exercises (for example, you are still experiencing incontinence or prolapse symptoms), you’ll need a pelvic floor physiotherapist. That’s what I’m here for! I can do an individualised assessment and give you specific strategies to change the situation.