Many women struggle with incontinence (urinary or rectal leakage), especially postpartum. However, this affects 25% of women no matter if they had a baby or not. Urinary leakage is a common problem, but it does not mean that it is ‘normal’. There can be many factors that lead to this dysfunction and one of the most common problems is weakness in your pelvic floor muscles. What are your pelvic floor muscles? These are the group of muscles that surround your urethra, vagina, and anus to help give conscious control for opening and closing these openings. They also act as a sling to help support your pelvic organs essentially keeping these organs inside of you! As you can see these muscles are very important and weakness can lead to embarrassing problems like leakage. 

So how do you train these muscles to reduce this dysfunction or even prevent it from occurring? Step one is training your kegel. Hopefully, you’ve heard this word before, but if not a kegel is the contraction of your pelvic floor muscles. It should feel like you are drawing your vagina inward. Many people explain this by activating the muscles that will stop your stream of urine (just be sure you don’t do this to train your muscles because that can cause other problems). Once you can do a kegel and recruit the proper muscles then you need to train those muscles daily. Luckily you can do this throughout the day and no one will even know! 

  • Quick kegel: complete 10 fast kegels moving through the whole motion and letting your muscles relax fully then maximally contract immediately after. 
  • Endurance kegel: complete a kegel with at least 50% maximum effort holding for as long as possible, aiming for 1 minute. If you can’t complete a minute, then continue to use your time as a goal.
  • Both of the above activities are easiest to complete when lying on your back, then to progress master these in seated position and standing positions. 

Now that we have covered the kegel it is important to know that the pelvic floor is muscle more than just a kegel. To improve the pelvic floor function then you need to also train your core, back muscles, and work on your breathing techniques. That’s a lot! Here are some exercises that you can try at home to work these areas:

If you find that the kegel activation is challenging or near impossible. Then don’t advance to the others until you’ve reached out to a physical therapist in your area that is trained in pelvic floor work! If you are in the BCS area, then I can help you with this and work with you to progress to harder activities as well. Just reach out to College Station Physical Therapy and Performance to make an appointment!