How Often Should You Do Pelvic Floor Exercises

Now you know how to do your pelvic floor exercises and you are prepared with the right tools, you will be wondering how often to do them to suit the condition of your pelvic floor. There is a wealth of clinical studies and online guidance about how often you should do pelvic floor exercises, with the original Kegel exercise routine, from Dr Arnold Kegel, recommending 500 contractions a day! Below we have brought together this guidance, to help you tweak your exercise plan to better suit the condition of your pelvic floor.

Pelvic floor exercises are right for everyone regardless of age, gender and health, and should be part of any healthy lifestyle. As with any exercise, you will need to find a balanced routine that works for you. One that keeps you motivated with the progress you see, but also gives your muscles time to relax and strengthen. If you overdo your pelvic floor exercises then your muscles can become too tense and cause you extreme pelvic pain. If you don't do them often enough, you will see your progress drop and your pelvic floor weaken.

Its hard to tell if your pelvic floor muscles are strong or weak as there are often no visual clues. However you can generally consider yourself having a strong pelvic floor if your partner notices it during penetrative sex, and a weak pelvic floor if you suffer from a pelvic floor disorder such as urinary incontinence. This is not an exact science however, so consider using a biofeedback tool to measure your strength if you are unsure.


I Have a Weak Pelvic Floor

If you suffer from a pelvic floor disorder, such as a pelvic organ prolapse, it will be as a result of a weak pelvic floor.

For fast, guaranteed results, in strengthening your pelvic floor use an electronic toner twice a day for 12 weeks. Some toners will have a programme specifically designed to help resolve your specific pelvic floor disorder. Your GP can even add further programmes to cater for your condition. Using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), your electronic toner will stimulate your pelvic floor muscles to contract in the right way; and of course, relax. Some electronic toners even come with a programme designed specifically for relaxation, so if you do suffer with pelvic pain or muscle tightness, your electronic pelvic toner can train your muscles to relax and recover.

If you intend to exercise manually, you should first concentrate on perfecting the slow flex exercises, completing them 6-10 times a day. Your slow twitch muscle fibres are responsible for endurance and the stamina you have to hold in urine until you reach the toilet. If you follow this routine, you should start to see an improvement within 8-20 weeks. It may seem like a long time, but your improvements depend on your commitment and the original strength of your pelvic floor. You will find that as your muscles get stronger, you can hold your ‘squeeze and lifts’ for longer. It can take regularly exercising for at least 3 months before your muscles will get to full strength.

Follow these links to learn more about specifically treating a pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence.


My Pelvic Floor is Going to Weaken

Throughout your life there are many events that can weaken your pelvic floor quickly or gradually; such as the menopause, undergoing a pelvic surgery, or having children. If you have been completing your pelvic exercises for a long time, like any muscle workout, your pelvic floor muscles will take less time to 'bounce back' after an event. In preparation, step up your exercises and commit to completing your exercises 6-10 times a day before and throughout the event (where possible) - use an electronic toner to see quicker results.


I Have a Strong Pelvic Floor

After 3 months of exercising your pelvic floor several times a day, it will be at full strength. You now need to continue to maintain it with a weekly maintenance routine. This can be once a week using the weekly maintenance routine programme on your electronic pelvic toner. Or multiple times a week with manual exercises. We recommend using a biofeedback tool to check that your squeezes remain at the highest level.


Remembering to Exercise

NHS Squeezy App

If you find yourself often forgetting to do your Kegel exercises, build them into your routine. Do them whenever you are on the loo after you have emptied your bladder; or during the adverts on TV. You may find it useful to leave post-its in these places as reminders until they become second nature. In doing so you will even help the other people that you live with to remember to do their Kegels!

Use the NHS Squeezy App to set reminders and follow exercise routines so you know you are doing your exercises as you need to, when you need to.


Don't Overdo It!

Listen to your body and if your muscles feel too tired then rest them.

Listen to your body and if your muscles feel too tired then rest them. When building muscle tone and strength, relaxation is just as important as exercising. For this reason, you should practice your ‘relax’ just as much as your ‘squeeze and lift’.

Over-exercising the pelvic floor muscles can lead to a tightening of the muscles rather than strengthening which can be very painful. If you have experienced pelvic pain associated with overusing the pelvic floor or are worried that it might happen to you, try using an electronic pelvic toner which ensures you are working and resting the correct muscles for the right amount of time.

To learn more, visit our page on Tight (Overactive) Pelvic Muscles, in the Pelvic Pain Section.


Sources

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Bladder and Bowel Foundation. (2008). Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women. [online] Bladder and Bowel Foundation, 2008. [viewed 16/04/18]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/Planners/pregnancycareplanner/Documents/BandBF_pelvic_floor_women.pdf

Bø, K. Hilde, G. Jensen, J. S. Siafarikas, F. Engh, M. E. (2013). International Urogynecology Journal. Too tight to give birth? Assessment of pelvic floor muscle function in 277 nulliparous pregnant women.[online] 24(12), p2065-2070. [viewed 16/04/18]. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00192-013-2133-8

Kegel, A. H. (1952) CIBA Clinical Symposia. Stress Incontinence and Genital Relaxation. 4(2), p 35-52.

Mørkved, S. Bø, K. (2000). BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.Effect of postpartum pelvic floor muscle training in prevention and treatment of urinary incontinence: a one‐year follow up. [online] 107(8), p1022-1028. [viewed 16/04/18]. Available from: https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2000.tb10407.x

NHS Trust. (2017). What are pelvic floor exercises? [online] NHS Trust, 2017. [viewed 16/04/18]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1063.aspx?categoryid=52

NICE. (2012). Urinary incontinence in neurological disease: assessment and management. [online] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2012. [viewed 13/04/18]. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg148/resources/urinary-incontinence-in-neurological-disease-assessment-and-management-pdf-35109577553605

Price, N. Dawood, R. Jackson, S. R. (2010). Maturitas. Pelvic floor exercise for urinary incontinence: A systematic literature review. [online] 67(4), p309-315. [viewed 16/04/18]. Available from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bd40/19fc898987cfb343c6652205837f92029039.pdf

Squeezy app NHS. (2018). squeezy NHS. [online] Propagator Ltd [viewed 06/04/2018] Available from: http://www.squeezyapp.co.uk/