BACKGROUND: A WEAKENED PELVIC FLOOR
Poor posture, overweight and a lot of sitting can strain the pelvic floor muscles over time. Changes in the hormonal balance with increasing age and operations in the pelvic area also weaken the pelvic floor. In women, pregnancy and childbirth cause additional stress. The result is a weakened pelvic floor. Stress incontinence, overactive bladder, uterine prolapse and faecal incontinence can occur. Sexuality can also suffer from weakened pelvic floor muscles.
PC MUSCLE EXERCISES (KEGEL EXERCISES)
Targeted pelvic floor training - also known as kegel exercises after its inventor Arnold H. Kegel - can counteract this. You train the pelvic floor muscles by tensing and relaxing (contraction training). Kegel exercises can easily be integrated into everyday life, e.g. when making a phone call or waiting at a traffic light.
- Perceive Pubococcygeal muscle (pc muscle): To consciously tense and relax the pc muscle, it is important in the first step to perceive it correctly. To do this, actively stop your urine stream during the toilet session - you do this with the pc muscle. Note: Do this exercise only to get to know your pc muscle. Stopping the urine stream on a regular basis can damage the pelvic floor.
- Slowly tensing and relaxing: Tense your pc muscle and hold the tension for a few seconds (about 3-5 seconds). Let go and relax your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat the exercise ten times.
- Fast tensing and relaxing: Switch quickly between tensing and relaxing the pc muscle. Tense, relax, tense...
- The elevator exercise: To gradually tension the pelvic floor, imagine your vagina being an elevator. Start the pc muscle exercise on the ground floor, at your vaginal opening. In your mind, take the elevator up to the third floor and tighten your pc muscle more and more on each floor. Once you have reached the top, relax your muscles bit by bit (or floor by floor) until you have reached the bottom again. Repeat the exercise ten times.
- The press exercise: Imagine a tampon being inserted into your vagina. Press as if you wanted to squeeze the tampon out of your vagina. Hold this pressing movement for two to three seconds and then relax again. Repeat the pc muscle exercise for ten times.
Note: Depending on the functional state of your pelvic floor, you can adjust the duration and number of repetitions.
PELVIC FLOOR TRAINING WITH PELVIC FLOOR TRAINERS
Besides normal kegel exercises, you can strengthen your pelvic floor with the help of pelvic floor trainers, e.g. vaginal cones. Vaginal cones are tampon-shaped kegel weights that are inserted into the vagina. To prevent the vaginal cone from falling out of the vagina, the pelvic floor automatically contracts around the cone. By wearing the vaginal cones, e.g. while standing or lying down, you can specifically train your pelvic floor muscles. After a few weeks of regular training, the training with pelvic floor trainers proves to be successful and shows high therapeutic success rates. Get more information about our VagiFit® Vaginal Cones or our Femcon Plus pelvic floor trainer.
PC MUSCLE EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY
The growing baby puts pressure on the bladder during pregnancy and stretches the abdominal muscles. The organs are pushed to the side or up and down. In addition, muscles, ligaments and tissue are loosened due to hormones in order to prepare for the upcoming birth. The pelvic floor muscles also become softer and are overstrained more quickly. Laughter or sneezing can cause bladder weakness (incontinence). Pelvic floor training thus plays an important role during pregnancy. A strengthened pelvic floor also provides more elasticity during birth and can prevent injuries.
The kegel exercises mentioned above are ideal for pelvic floor training during pregnancy. Vaginal Cones should not be used during pregnancy or six weeks after childbirth.
PC MUSCLE EXERCISE AFTER PREGNANCY
During the first two to three weeks after childbirth, the focus is on rest and protection so that the body can regenerate. Wounds heal, the uterus contracts again and the connective tissue is strengthened. During this time it is particularly important to relieve the load on the pelvic floor and, for example, to stand up from the side or to avoid heavy lifting. Afterwards, you can start light pelvic floor training in consultation with your doctor or midwife. After approx. 6-8 weeks, a holistic recovery course is recommended in which other body regions such as the back and abdomen are also strengthened. Now, you can also use vaginal cones to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
You want to learn more about the function and structure of the pelvic floor? Have a look at our article The Pelvic Floor - Function & Structure.