12 Jul How many pelvic floor contractions should I do per day?
I get asked this a lot. And the answer is frustratingly elusive. I recently did a literature review to try and find the answer, and like most things, it’s more complicated than you would expect.
But, for ease of understanding, I’ll just give you the short answer.
How ever many you will do!
Adherance is the most important factor, and this is true for any exercise program. A small amount is going to be more effective than if I give you a large number to do, and you do a whole lot of nothing.
We have come quite a long way from the 500 per day Kegel first recommended.
More recent research has shown us that the higher the recommended number of repetitions, the more likely it is that study participants will drop out, or not complete their program at all.
The most recent and robust research seems to say that 30 per day is the recommended minimal amount (Neumann et al, 2006).
However, the pelvic floor is a skeletal muscle, so we should be able to follow the ACSM’s guidelines for skeletal muscle strength training, which tell us:
1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 2-3 days per week, progressing to 4-5 days per week. (Australian College of Sports Medicine, 2009)
It also needs to be individualised. For some of the women I see, they have never done pelvic floor exercises before, and struggle to hold the contraction at all. For these women, their program might be 10 contractions (if they can do 10), no holds, and progress from there.
It is based on what you personally can achieve, if that is squeezes with no holds, start there and work your way up.
The hardest part is getting the contraction correct!
So, the take away message?
Something is always going to be better than nothing. So choose something that will help to make doing some pelvic floor squeezed a habit. Whether that is doing it when you brush your teeth, or wash your hair, or whatever else you can think of that you do regularly. A post it note on the bathroom mirror can work well.
If you are unsure if you are contracting the muscles correctly, contact us for an assessment.
AUSTRALIAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE 2009. Position Stand: Progression Models in Resistance training for healthy adults. . Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41, 687-708.
NEUMANN, P., GRIMMER, K. & DEENADAYALAN, Y. 2006. Pelvic floor muscle training and adjunctive therapies for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women: a systematic review. BMC Women’s Heatlh, 6.