|What it’s good for||Strengthens the web of muscles and tissues that keeps you in control of when you go to the loo, helping to reduce or even reverse leaks of urine and incontinence. This affects everyone as we age: “stress” incontinence not only means we need to find a loo more frequently, but has the upsetting effect of spilling little leaks of urine when we jump or run, sneeze or even laugh|
|How often to do it||Every day, morning, noon and night!|
|Equipment you’ll need||None|
Pelvic floor exercises will work best for you if you keep on doing them regularly throughout your life. While this sounds like a burden, once you’ve learnt the technique, you can practise them any time you are sitting still – watching TV, out in the car or on the bus, in boring meetings or at the cinema.
First you need to be sure you are getting the exercises right. The two main errors are:
- Just squeezing your buttock muscles together
- Just pulling in your tummy
Both of these versions will feel like they are working in the right area, but they will not strengthen your pelvic floor.
Try to imagine the muscles involved as a bit like the oversized “nappy” worn by Sumo wrestlers. The sling section, running between your legs, needs to be sucked up hard – as though you are literally pulling it into your body. For women this should feel like you are sucking up into your vagina. For men, focus on trying to lift your scrotum as you pull up. In either case, no visible movement occurs: it’s all internal.
You might also want to imagine trying to stop yourself from urinating and defecating, but the overall effect is to strongly pull or suck up the whole of the nappy sling inside you.
Here’s the exercise technique to learn:
- Sit comfortably in an upright chair, back supported
- Bundle all the bits of the imaginary pelvic sling and suck or lift it all up, at first just inside, then increasing the pull a bit and finally lifting hard until it has all reached your belly button inside
- Hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly release the sling until you’ve reached ground level and your muscles are relaxed again
Don’t rush it and take great care to breathe throughout. Do 10 lift-and-lowers at a time, two or three times during the day.
Instead of sucking up and releasing slowly, try sucking up as hard and fast as you can, then releasing slowly. Do 10 rapid lift and slow lowers at one go, and try to practice this version at least once a day.
Caution: do not practise while you are actually going to the toilet; this can cause a urinary infection