Pelvic Floor Exercises
What Are Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The floor of the pelvis consists of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tail bone at the back to the pubic bone in front.
Female Pelvic Floor
A woman’s pelvic floor supports the bladder, the womb (uterus) and the bowel. The urethra (front passage), the vagina (birth canal) and the rectum (back passage) pass through the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role in bladder and bowel control and sexual sensation.
Male Pelvic Floor
A healthy pelvic floor muscle is equally important for men. It is just as vital for men to be encouraged to exercise their pelvic floor muscles, especially for men with specific health conditions.
Why Do Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Weaken?
The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by:
- pregnancy and childbirth;
- continual straining to empty your bowels (constipation);
- persistent heavy lifting;
- a chronic cough (such as smoker’s cough or chronic bronchitis and asthma);
- being overweight;
- changes in hormone levels at menopause (change of life);
- surgery (e.g. prostate or episiotomy),
- weak core muscle strength and
- a lack of general fitness.
What Are The Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Both women and men of all ages need to maintain pelvic floor muscle strength.
Women and men with stress incontinence, that is, those who regularly lose urine when coughing, sneezing or exercising, should especially benefit from these exercises.
For pregnant women, these exercises help the body to cope with the increasing weight of the baby. Healthy, fit muscles pre-natally will recover more readily after birth.
In particular, as women grow older, it is vital to keep the pelvic floor muscles healthy because, at menopause, the muscles change and may weaken. A pelvic floor exercise routine helps to minimise the effects of menopause on pelvic support and bladder control.
Likewise, men are more likely to have age-related onset on pelvic floor weakness.
Pelvic floor exercises may also be useful in conjunction with a bladder training program aimed at improving bladder control in people who experience the urgent need to pass urine frequently (urge incontinence).
How To Test Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
The first thing to do is to identify the muscles that r exercised correctly.
- Sit or lie down comfortably with the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen relaxed.
- Tighten the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to control diarrhoea or wind. Relax it. Practice this movement several times until you are sure you are exercising the correct muscle. Try not to squeeze your buttocks.
- When you are passing urine, try to stop the flow mid-stream, then restart it. Only do this to learn which muscles are the correct ones to use and then do it no more than once a week to check your progress, as this may interfere with healthy bladder emptying.
- If you are unable to feel a definite squeeze and lift action of your pelvic floor muscles, you should seek professional help to get your pelvic floor muscles working correctly. Likewise, if you are unable to slow the stream of urine as described above, please seek professional advice.
Women and men with weak pelvic floor muscles should have pelvic floor exercises prescribed. Preferably, by a physiotherapist or continence advisor with expertise in this area.
The good news is that your pelvic floor muscles can be tested and treated in the vast majority of cases without the need for internal examination or techniques.
What To Do If You Have Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Your quickest and most effective way of training your correct pelvic floor muscles is with the assistance of a physiotherapist with a particular interest in pelvic floor conditions. They will help you to:
- assess your current pelvic floor function,
- confirm a diagnosis of urge or stress incontinence, or other health condition,
- identify your correct pelvic floor muscle contraction,
- provide you with home exercises, guidance and re-assessment,
- offer real-time ultrasound physiotherapy as an option to assist your pelvic floor retraining.
Where To Seek Help For Your Pelvic Floor
We highly recommend that you seek the advice of a physiotherapist with a particular interest in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Good results take time, and it will take less time with the right information.
To build up your pelvic floor muscles to their maximum strength, you will need to work hard at these exercises under the guidance of your pelvic floor physiotherapist.
What Else Can You Do To Help Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
It is important to avoid activities that stress your pelvic floor. We suggest that you should:
- Share the lifting of heavy loads;
- Avoid constipation and prevent any straining during a bowel movement;
- Seek medical advice for hay-fever, asthma and bronchitis to reduce sneezing and coughing;
- Keep your weight within the right range for your height and age.
- Faecal Incontinence
- Mastitis/Blocked or Plugged Ducts
- Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Pregnancy Back Pain
- Pregnancy Massage
- Rectus Diastasis / Abdominal Separation
- Stress Incontinence
- Underactive Pelvic Floor
- Urge Faecal Incontinence
- Urgency/Overactive Bladder (OAB)/Urge Incontinence
- Pre and Post-Pregnancy Exercise Prescription and Rehabilitation
Q: What Do You Need To Bring To Your Women's Health Appointment?
A: Please bring any information regarding your condition from your GP, medical specialists or other health care providers with you to your appointment. You will also need to arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to fill out some paperwork. Alternatively, we can email information to you before your appointment.
Q: What Do You Wear To Your Appointment?
A: Please wear clothing that you can move around freely in.
Q: Will the Information That You Provide During Your Appointment Remain Confidential?
A: Yes. All the information that you provide in your appointment will remain confidential, and your physiotherapist will only communicate with other healthcare providers involved in your care with your consent. We also conduct your appointment in individual rooms to ensure that what you say remains confidential. The one exception to this is cases of rectus diastasis, which we may treat in the general physiotherapy curtained consulting area unless otherwise requested.
Q: How Long Will Your Appointment Be?
A: The length of the appointment can vary depending on the condition that we treat. Please see the table below for further information. Your initial women's health appointment will normally take 1-hour. Mastitis and rectus diastasis appointments will normally take 30 to 40-minutes. For information specific to your needs, please call our receptionist.
Q: What Will Your Women's Health Physiotherapy Appointment Cost?
A: The cost of the session can vary depending on the condition that will be treating. Please call our reception staff at Sandgate (Ph: 3269 1122) or Ashgrove (Ph: 3366 4221) for further information.
Q: Is Your Women's Health Physiotherapy Appointment Claimable Under Private Health Insurance?
A: Yes. Please bring the private health insurance card with you to your appointment so we can process your claim on the spot.
Q: Is Your Appointment Covered Under An EPC/Medicare Referral?
A: Yes, we do accept GP referrals under EPC guidelines. However, but due to the extended time allocated by your women's health physiotherapist, there will be a gap payment to cover the total cost of your consultation after the Medicare rebate is applied. Please call our reception staff at Sandgate (Ph: 3269 1122) or Ashgrove (Ph: 3366 4221) for specific information.
Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
EMS MachinesElectronic muscle stimulation (EMS) may help you to strengthen weak muscles.
How Does Electric Muscle Stimulation Assist Strengthening?There are several theories on how an EMS Machine may assist in muscle strengthening. One potential reason is that when you maximally contract a muscle, at best, only 30% of all your muscle fibres are in a state of contraction. The remaining 70% are dormant and awaiting recruitment when the contracting fibres fatigue. With EMS, you can potentially electrically stimulate these resting muscle fibres to improve their strength. Clinically, EMS appears to be more effective when the muscles are frail, and you have difficulty performing regular anti-gravity exercises. Another reason that EMS potentially works is via an improvement in the recruitment of nerve conduction rates. Explained simply, it takes approximately 10000 repetitions for your brain to learn how to quickly send a message to your muscles via the quickest nerve pathways. This contraction pattern becomes your "memory engram". The more frequent your muscle recruits, the better your body becomes at finding the fastest way to recruit that muscle. EMS can potentially provide you with repeated contractions to accelerate this learning process. To achieve your best outcome, we recommend that you seek professional advice on how to best utilise your EMS machine from your local physiotherapist who has a particular interest in EMS muscle retraining.
Important EMS Machine InformationUse your machine only as directed. A TENS machine and EMS machine are electronic medical devices. Always read the label and instruction manual. A TENS machine may assist you in modest short-term pain relief. Consult your doctor/healthcare professional before use and if symptoms persist.
Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning or are recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose. Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.
What Exercises Should You Do?Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Please take caution with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better. Thus simply isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person. You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.
What Happens When You Stop Exercises?Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures are inadequately supported and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage. It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific for your needs. The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.
Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you just stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it was working? We would hope not! Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work of you don't take it as prescribed by your health professional. So, next time you skip your "exercise dose" just remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please contact your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.
Private Health Insurance Rebates
PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for the majority of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.
However, Private Health Funds do vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover that you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.
HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims
Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system. Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. For more information, please visit Hicaps for the latest funds which can use their instant claiming system.
Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.
- All Private Health Insurance Funds including BUPA, Medibank Private, HCF
- For a full list of Hicaps instant claim funds see here: Hicaps Funds
- HCF More for Muscles Program
PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies including:
- Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
- Department of Veterans' Affairs
- CTP & Sports Insurers