Your pelvic floor muscles span the bottom of your pelvis and support your bowel and bladder, and your uterus if you’re a woman. As well as providing support, strong pelvic floor muscles are important for control of urination and bowel movements, normal sexual function, and stability of the abdomen and spine.
Like other muscles, your pelvic floor can become weak. Factors that can contribute to this include age, childbirth, constipation, obesity, chronic cough, heavy lifting, and abdominal or pelvic surgery.
See a physiotherapist or continence nurse before doing pelvic floor exercises if you:
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try stopping your urine stream for a couple of seconds while emptying your bladder. You use your pelvic floor muscles to do this. Another way is to feel the muscles you use when you imagine stopping the flow of urine and holding in wind. This can be done standing, sitting or lying down.
Pelvic floor exercises should be done several times a day. You can be standing, sitting or lying down. You can even do them while watching TV or waiting at traffic lights. The technique is the same for men and women.
Poor technique can make pelvic floor exercises ineffective or even risk injury. Remember these points:
Reviewed by: Prof Sandi Hayes, Senior Research Fellow, ihop Research Group, School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA, SA; Chris Pidd, Consumer; Steve Pratt, Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager, Cancer Council WA, WA; Kellie Toohey, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, University of Canberra, ACT.