Pelvic Floor Safe Exercises

Co-ordinating the core, pelvic floor and breathing is probably something that many women never thought much of before child birth.  After pregnancy and child birth my core and pelvic floor did not bounce back to what it was and at that point I found myself needing to break down the process so that I could return to the basics to rebuild my 'core system' that once worked interdependently.  AKA, retrain my body to hold onto my pee when I sneezed or exercised, such as skipping!!! 

Ultimately as we go about our day to day tasks, such as lifting baby in and out of the car, pram, cot, squating down to pick up baby (or toddler), toys or THAT LEGO, (most probably after stepping on it and cursing...) we want our core, pelvic floor and breathe to be co-ordinated in such a way that there is no accidental leaking, or constantly suffering from back pain.  

I initially dissected the co-ordinated core, pelvic floor and breathing system to help me focus and reconnect each component, with my ultimate aim to bring it all together, to have it work as one, and without having to overthink each of the 'parts'.  It takes time and practice, but I'm happy to say that after revisiting the basics I now have control over what happens 'down there'.

It is important to start back at the basics, try these 'Knee Squeeze with Ball' and 'Hip Raises with Ball Squeeze, to reconnect the coordination of your core, pelvic floor and breathing patern. 

Knee Squeezes with Ball

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your back straight whilst maintaining a neutral spine; let the natural curve in our lower spine be relax and don't push your back into the ground.
  2. Place the ball between your knees then gently squeeze the ball between your knees feeling the muscles of your inner thighs contract.  It is likely that you will also co-contract your pelvic floor muscles and this is okay. 
  3. Breathing - Squeeze as you exhale and relax as your inhale.  Become aware of your breathing as you squeeze and relax.  Don't hold your breath and always allow the pelvic floor to completely relax. 
  4. As you get used to this; squeeze, breathe-out and relax, breathe-in rhyme begin to focus on your pelvic floor contractions as you gently draw your pelvic floor up from the tail bone right through to the pubic bone.
  5. Remember, your hips, bottom and upper body should be relaxed.
  6. As you exhale and squeeze gently draw your lower abdomen, just below your belly button, inwards towards your spine.   This is a gentle muscular movement and not a 'sucking in of your tummy'.
  7. To feel your deep lower core (transverse abdominis) place one hand on the inside of one of your hips bones angled down towards your pubic bone.  Place the fingers of your other hand either side of your belly button (where your rectus abdominis meet) to feel that your rectus abdominis are coming together and not pulling apart.
  8. Repeat this exercise 10-15 repetitions at least 3 times per day.
  9. The first image demonstrates a similar position, but without the ball between the knees and without the hand placement.
 Knee Squeeze with Ball

Knee Squeeze with Ball

Hip Raises/ Hip Thrusters & Squeeze / Butt Lift / Bridges

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your back straight whilst maintaining a neutral spine; let the natural curve in our lower spine be relax and don't push your back into the ground.
  2. Place the ball between your knees then gently squeeze the ball between your knees feeling the muscles of your inner thighs contract and drive through your heels as you raise your hips off the ground.  It is likely that you will also co-contract your pelvic floor muscles and this is okay. 
  3. Breathing - Squeeze as you exhale and relax as your inhale.  Become away of your breathing as you squeeze and relax.  Don't hold your breath and always allow the pelvic floor to completely relax. 
  4. As you get used to this; squeeze, breathe-out and relax, breathe-in rhyme begin to focus on your pelvic floor contractions as you gently draw your pelvic floor up from the tail bone right through to the pubic bone.
  5. Remember, your hips, bottom and upper body should be relaxed.
  6. As you exhale and squeeze gently draw your lower abdomen, just below your belly button, inwards towards your spine.   This is a gentle muscular movement and not a 'sucking in of your tummy'.
  7. To feel your deep lower core (transverse abdominis) place one hand on the inside of one of your hips bones angled down towards your pubic bone.  Place the fingers of your other hand either side of your belly button (where your rectus abdominis meet) to feel that your rectus abdominis are coming together and not pulling apart.
  8. Repeat this exercise 10-15 repetitions at least 3 times per day.
  9. The first image demonstrates a similar position, but without the ball between the knees and without the hand placement.
 Hip Raises with Ball Squeeze

Hip Raises with Ball Squeeze

Incorporate these pelvic floor safe exercises into your daily routine, aim to do them at least three times each day, but like I say to all my Mummy clients, finding time in your day to do these exercises just once is a great start.  

In this video, physiotherapist Anne Patterson gives lots of tips on how to maintain pelvic floor fitness and provide clear images and and explanation of the the pelvic floor.  It is definitely worth taking the time to watch.

Like all exercises, pelvic floor exercises are most effective when individually tailored and monitored. The exercises described are only a guide and may not help if done incorrectly or if the training is inappropriate.  If you have any concerns with your pelvic floor you should be individually assessed by your doctor or women's health physiotherapist.