If you have been pregnant, then chances are at some time in your pregnancy or postnatal journey you have been advised to do pelvic floor exercises (aka kegels). In my role as a postnatal trainer I follow up with PT clients on how they have been going with the pelvic floor exercises they have been prescribed by their physiotherapist. Nine times out of ten I hear "Good, but I haven't been doing them as often as I should". This is usually code for, I haven't been doing them at all! I get it, I have been there myself. But the reality is, if you want it fixed, then you have to do the work, and consistency is key.
In my experience, there are two main reasons why women don't do them regularly:
In this post, we are going to show you a clever trick to help your brain connect with your body to maximise your pelvic floor exercise training.
We are going to use our breath along with a visualisation of a peanut and an elephant. Yep, an elephant. Here is how it works:
1. Get into position. You can do this sitting, standing or kneeling on all fours, but for beginners it helps to lie on your back with one hand on the side of your ribs and the other on the middle of your belly. Try to rest your elbows on the floor and relax.
2. This is where the elephant comes in. An African elephant has two 'fingers' on the end of its trunk that it uses to pick things up (an Asian Elephant only has one finger so he is no good for this exercise). Visualise that your back passage (anus) and front passage (vulva) are the lips of the elephants trunk.Still with me?
3.As you inhale just relax your pelvic floor and breath into your ribs (letting them expand out to the sides) and gently into your belly.
4. As you slowly exhale, close your anus and vulva as if you are trying to pick up a peanut with your 'trunk' then gently suck the peanut up your trunk (pelvic floor lift) as you continue to exhale. It is important to relax your buttocks and tummy. There should be no contraction of the buttocks or six pack during this exercise. You may feel a very slight tension between the hip bones, this is OK (this is your transverse abdominis engaging).
5. Inhale, and let everything drop down again.
So to recap, here is the wording to help talk you through the exercise. "Inhale, relax. Slow exhale, close front, back, pick up the peanut and suck it up, inhale relax." Repeat 4-5 times.
So how did you go? Now, if the elephant doesn't float your boat, you can try other visualisations and find one that works for you. Here are a couple I have heard of:
If you are having trouble feeling any contraction or relaxation through your pelvic floor, it is definitely worthwhile making an appointment to see a women's health physio that does internal exams so you get a good idea of where your pelvic floor is at.
Keep an eye out this week for other follow up posts on pelvic floor exercises such as:
About the Author
Christine is a pregnancy and postnatal trainer with a passion for pelvic floor and abdominal safe movement. Her interest in this area was sparked after her own battles with prolapse and diastasis.
If you have any questions about postnatal exercise or exercising with prolapse or abdominal separation feel free to contact Christine.
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