The first step towards performing correct pelvic floor exercises is to find your pelvic floor muscles. Many people tense their thighs and buttocks, which is incorrect. These muscles should be relaxed. Instead, start with trying to tighten your rectal muscles, as if you’re trying to stop wind, and tighten forward/upward towards your vagina (for women) or scrotum (for men.) Keep the tension for a few seconds, relax for at least as long and repeat. Beginners can try to keep the tension for two to three seconds. The stronger you become, the longer – up to eight to nine seconds – you can keep the tension. A good way of finding out if you’re using the correct muscles is to try to stop the flow of urine whilst urinating. However, DO NOT use this as exercise as it may cause you to start retaining urine.
Pelvic floor exercises can be done to increase strength, swiftness and endurance.
Strength is exercised by tensing the muscles for five to six seconds, relaxing for at least as long and repeating. In the beginning, try to do two or three intervals and as you get stronger, increase to up to ten intervals. Do at least two sets of intervals each day to prevent urinary leakage.
Endurance is exercised by tensing the muscles, although not at full tension, for as long as you can. Endurance exercises are done as a complement to strength exercises.
Swiftness is exercised by keeping the tension for a short moment, about three seconds, and then relaxing for three seconds. Try to do ten intervals once a day. Swiftness exercise helps your pelvic floor cope with sudden pressure, for example when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
Illustration: Maria Cruseman © Snippgympa 2012