So, we know we are supposed to do pelvic floor exercises if we’ve had children. But there are lots of other people who also need to do exercises to prevent health problems. In theory we are trying to find time to do 3 sets of 8 to 12 squeezes per day. How long you hold each squeeze and with how much effort depends a little on the individual. If you struggle to know whether you are doing things right then you should probably see a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist to show you how. BUT presuming you are doing the right thing, and you know and want to exercise, but you keep forgetting, what are the strategies that might help?
Red Dot Special?
Firstly the idea of “reminders” has been shown to work. Years ago the idea of the “red dot” reminders was taken up as the way to go. All you had to do was put red dots (or any dot colour would work ) in strategic places to remind you to exercise.
This was out there for year until someone decided that this wasn’t going to work. Then in …………., a study was done looking at those using red dot reminders and those with no reminders and it was found that the red dot group got their exercises done!
So the red dot, or any coloured dot here and there can be a way of getting you into new habits.
Moving on from this, the word “habit” is a key. You have to develop a habit. After all there are some essential things we do each day like cleaning our teeth which are just habits. We hate doing it as little children and we skip when mum and dad aren’t looking. Eventually we realise it does us good and so we learn its just part of life. So how about putting pelvic floor exercise into your daily self care routine…showering, washing, teeth-cleaning. Make these tasks your trigger to doing your exercises at least twice a day. It only takes 2 minutes to do a set of 10 squeezes holding each for 8 seconds and resting a few seconds between each squeeze.
Does the old “traffic light” cue work?
This is another one that captured the imagination many years ago and has stuck for some people. Unfortunately, someone again more recently decided to try and see whether those people exercising at the traffic lights had universally great pelvic floor muscle ability. Sadly the answer was no. They did not. IN clinical practice, so many people tell us that they do the exercises at the traffic lights, and yet when we assess, the muscles aren’t that’s strong. The key here is that when we are at the lights we are always sitting. It makes sense to do exercise in different positions including standing. At the traffic lights, we are also concentrating ton driving! So we are not really focusing on high quality exercise.
So if the car is your trigger, how about doing your exercises when you park the car: just wait for 2 minutes to concentrate on exercising well. Why not mix up starting position and get out of the car when arriving home and just stand and focus on doing quality exercise briefly.
Daily life triggers
I am happy to share with those coming in to see me in consultations, that what works for me is to do pelvic floor exercise when I am waiting for something: there are so many times in the day when we find ourselves just waiting for a couple of minutes:
The microwave counting down
The kettle to boil
Something we are cooking to come to the simmer
Filling a watering can,
Waiting on hold on the phone
Waiting for the printer to deliver its pages
Waiting in a queue
What else can I do:
Some people respond really well to APPS. Three are hundreds of reminder APPs out there and for lots of people this works. An alarm sounds and images cue the exercise. A recent review by a group of Physiotherapists recently found that the “Squeezy” APP from the National Health Service U.K works well. It does cost a small fee. As for free APPS, the green APP with white tick “Kegel trainer” scored highly for quality and ease of use in their study.
But apps won’t work for everyone. Maybe they might get you started. Maybe you’ll need more than one strategy.
Kari Bo is a Norwegian Physiotherapist who has led research into pelvic floor exercise. She has recently produced research showing that attending an exercise class once a week during which pelvic floor exercise is cued helps hugely. If you can’t find a dedicated pelvic floor class, make sure you start any work out or exercise class with a few minutes devoted to pelvic floor along with one of the strategies above to keep reminders in everyday life.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY EXERCISING