Pelvic floor exercises for the treatment of stress incontinence
Engaging in targeted pelvic floor exercises can be very effective in addressing incontinence, but it is important to know exactly which specific pelvic floor muscles to target for strengthening. Oftentimes the muscles directly associated with a specific problem-area identified aren’t necessarily those which need to be targeted directly for strengthening through exercise.
Identifying the right muscles to exercise
In a natural sitting position, sit up straight in a firm chair with your feet flat on the ground and your knees about two clenched fists apart. Contract the anal muscle just above the entrance to the anus in the same way you would if you were trying to stop air escaping from your anus. Keep your buttocks and legs still while doing so. This exercise only really serves to help you identify the different pelvic floor muscles you have and more importantly, how to differentiate between which ones to target for strengthening and which one isn’t too important to stress incontinence.
Next, contract the muscle you would when trying to stem the flow of urine (stopping your stream of urine). It will become evident that a different part of the pelvic floor muscle is activated in this exercise and essentially, this is the part of the pelvic floor muscle you will target with your exercises. Restoring strength to this region effectively aids in the process of restoring continence.
Making a commitment
Before exploring specific exercises it is important to stress that consistency is the ultimate key to success. These exercises need to become a part of your daily routine in order to build up the kind of pelvic floor muscle strength effective in restoring continence.
Executing the pelvic floor stress incontinence exercises
Pull-Ups (Slow): Sit with your knees two clenched-fists apart (as you did in the muscle-identification exercise earlier). Contract your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you’d use to stem your urine stream) as tightly as you can and hold them in the contracted state for five seconds before relaxing. One contraction, hold and release motion counts as one repetition (rep) and you should complete at least five reps. These are called slow-pulls because the act of contracting your pelvic floor muscle as part of this exercise should be done in a slow, controlled fashion.
Pulls-Ups (Fast): To complete fast pull-ups, go through the same motions as the slow pull-ups, except here you’d then complete the contraction motion as quickly as possible. A set of five reps is optimal here as well.
The ideal pull-up pelvic floor muscle exercise routine (slow pull-ups followed by fast pull-ups) should continue uninterrupted for up to five minutes, no less than three times daily, but optimally you’d want to reach frequencies of between 5-10 daily sessions. The more consistency you maintain, the stronger your pelvic floor muscles will become and the more control you’ll have over your stress incontinence.
In the first few days of going through the exercise routine, it may make for somewhat of a lifestyle change, but the ultimate aim is to make your pelvic floor muscle exercise regime part of your life. Once you get the hang of it, you can even do them while completing other activities, such as cooking, watching television or anything else.
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