Hab-it: Pelvic Floor is a DVD that gives women suffering from the symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor (urinary incontinence, pelvic prolapse) the experience of working with a physical therapist from the comforts of home. The intent of the DVD is to help, if not eliminate, the symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor. The DVD was designed with input from physicians, physical therapists, and real patients to ensure that viewers receive expert guidance that addresses the most common mistakes and frustrations of physical therapy.
Your pelvic floor is a series of muscles that span the area under your pelvis, wrapping around the underside of your bladder, uterus and rectum. These muscles help control bodily functions. When they are injured (due to childbirth, for example) or grow weak, many women experience incontinence or prolapse. While Kegel exercises can help to a certain degree, they do not effectively target the entire set of relevant muscles. By strengthening these muscles holistically through the regimen of precise, carefully-executed exercises, you can rebuild a strong pelvic floor and regain control of your body.
Some common symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor include:
Approximately 20 million women suffer from the consequences of a weakened pelvic floor.
The DVD has three distinct sections:
Understanding anatomy and how it works is the first step toward rehabilitation. This section of the DVD provides a clear and complete explanation of your pelvic floor: where it is located, why it is important, which muscles it involves and how it works. After viewing the anatomy overview, you will be able to easily visualize the muscle action taking place during your exercises. Developing these visualization techniques is a crucial step in achieving proper form and maximizing results.
Poor posture can put stress on your lower back and abdominal basket, exacerbating problems with your pelvic floor muscles. Unless you work to achieve optimal posture, the road to rehabilitation may be longer than necessary. This section of the DVD will help you understand proper posture and alignment and how to achieve and maintain it throughout your exercises.
The DVD offers four separate workouts to comprehensively target all of your pelvic floor muscles. In their full length, each of these workouts includes a detailed introduction that helps you understand the exercises you are about to perform, as well as instructor-led, step-by-step instructions for isolating and strengthening the musculature of your pelvic floor and abdominal basket. Once you are familiar with the exercises, you can switch to the “time-efficient” versions (also included on the DVD), which allow you to skip the introductions and jump right into the workouts.
We developed the workouts such that each can be “stand alone” (i.e., doing any of the workouts in its entirety will work all the muscles that need to be strengthened). So, if you find one in particular that you like, stick with it. Or, if you feel like you need to mix things up, you can switch around among the workouts. The last one is harder than the others, so you should use that one only after you feel that you have mastered the other three.
With any muscle group in your body, it typically takes from four to six weeks, consistently performing the exercises three times a week, to see the neuromuscular adaptations that are required for increased strength and endurance. That includes your pelvic floor muscles. You may notice a positive effect before that, but generally it will take four to six weeks of consistent exercise to see a significant change.
The “time efficient” workouts that are found at the end of the DVD are the same workouts as the others, but without the longer introductions that explain how to set up for the exercises. So, once you’ve mastered how to do all exercises within a workout properly, you can use the shortened versions to make sure you’re using your time most efficiently.
Unfortunately, no. Muscles get strong and stay strong only if we consistently exercise them. Our recommendation would be to continue a maintenance program once you have achieved your goal of a decrease or resolution of symptoms. A maintenance program would include performing 8-10 pelvic floor lifts and holds every day. Your goal should be to become independent with these exercises and that is why we demonstrate how to do them lying on your back, sitting and standing. Once you have mastered your pelvic floor contraction and elevation in all three of these positions, you should have no problem incorporating at least 8-10 contractions into your daily routine. This includes standing in the grocery line, sitting in your car or at work, and lying in bed, to give just a few examples. This should help maintain the increased pelvic floor strength you have achieved. Please note that continuing to work your entire abdominal basket would be ideal, targeting your low back, your glutes and your lower abdominal muscles. Whether you use your favorite exercises from our DVD or other exercises that target your abdominal basket, you must remember that these areas form a strong base for optimal posture and overall body health.
As we stress in the DVD, both our pelvic floor and low back muscles work with our stomach and hip muscles to form our abdominal basket. You see the similarities because a healthy low back is dependent on a strong abdominal basket, requiring us to work our pelvic floor muscles, our stomach muscles and our hip muscles. Just the same, a healthy pelvic floor requires a strong abdominal basket, again, dependent on strengthening our low back muscles, our stomach muscles and our hip muscles. The differences in the two rehab regimens would be the emphasis on pelvic floor isolation exercises in a pelvic floor rehab program and the emphasis on isolating our low back extensors in a low back rehab program.
You should see a women’s healthcare specialist for a thorough evaluation. It’s possible you may not be contracting your pelvic floor effectively and may require additional intervention to get your pelvic floor muscles retrained to react appropriately again. This can be compared to a knee patient who is trying to fire the muscle in the front of her thigh so she can walk normally. Some patients are able to fire this muscle again shortly after surgery and some patients require electric stimulation to assist the muscle contraction until a normal firing pattern is achieved independently.