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The dos and don’ts of correctly contracting your pelvic floor muscles when first learning them:

  • Do not use your inner thigh muscles.
  • Do not tilt your pelvis.
  • Do not clench your buttocks.
  • Do not strongly contract your abdominal muscles.
  • Do not hold your breath.
  • Do not flare your ribs.
  • Do not bear down.
  • Yes, you should feel lift and squeeze of the pelvic floor.
  • Yes, your lower tummy may draw gently in.
  • Yes, initially gentle is better than trying too hard to ensure the correct activation.
  • Yes, when you are sure you have the correct activation, you can add some maximal contractions.
  • Yes, always remember to let go and relax your pelvic floor muscles after exercising them.

And remember to get your brain involved when trying to locate these sometimes elusive muscles!

Visualise the muscles by looking at these images above of the muscles (including the anus from the other view) and think about the right and the left side. It helps to sometimes use a clock face (which we are so familiar with) to concentrate your attempted activations.

Also keep breathing as you work your muscles and say ‘vagina, anus’ (in your head) as you contract them to keep the focus local to the area. This helps you minimise the other muscles such as your abdominals, inner thighs and glutes from being too dominant.

If you can’t do any of this then ring your nearest pelvic health physio for a one-on-one consultation.

This is taken from my two books: Pelvic Floor Recovery: Physiotherapy for Gynaecological and Colorectal Repair Surgery (4th Edition) and Pelvic Floor Essentials (4th Edition). They can be purchased from my book website shop.

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