I’m guessing you’ve probably heard someone recommend you do your pelvic floor exercises at some point. I’m also thinking you might have thought something like “Oh yes, great idea, I can get them done while I’m just sitting there and not doing anything else”.
While this sounds like a great idea, it’s really not. You should stop doing them at the traffic lights because there are far better ways to do them. Emphasis on the “far better”.
Let me explain…
First off, let’s chat about why it’s not effective.
The Pelvic Floor is Like Every Other Muscle In Our Body
For muscles to gain strength they need to be challenged and we do this by following the correct sets, reps, frequency and resistance. The pelvic floor muscles work exactly the same as the rest of the muscles in our body and that includes challenging them.
To help explain this further let’s use the bicep as an example.
If you’re trying to strengthen your bicep you wouldn’t just pick up any weight and do bicep curls in little gaps of time throughout your day (like at a traffic light). No, you would have a decided number of sets, reps and weight. This same theory applies to the pelvic floor.
If you’re doing your exercises correctly like this, it’s likely you wouldn’t have time to complete your sets in the space of that one traffic light and you’d have too big of a rest before you hit your next traffic light.
Basically, if you do them at the traffic light you’re likely not challenging your pelvic floor enough to strengthen them.
Driving and Pelvic Floor Exercises Need the Same Thing- Focus
Often when we’re working on our pelvic floor muscles we need to make them stronger but more importantly, more functional.
For the pelvic floor to work functionally, it needs to be able to lift strong, relax well, lift at the right time, drop at the right time, hold for long enough and have a good amount of tone. It’s a lot more than just lifting your pelvic floor whenever you think about it.
To do your pelvic floor exercises well it can require a lot of focus especially if you’re just starting out and struggling with relaxing your pelvic floor.
So either you’re focusing on driving and possibly doing a poor job of your pelvic floor exercises or you’re focusing on your pelvic floor exercises and not on the driving. I know which one I would pick! Or even better- focus on the driving and save the pelvic floor exercises for another time!
The Pelvic Floor Needs Functional Training
Just like any other muscle in our body we need to practise doing pelvic floor exercises functionally.
For example, if I want to get good at kicking a football I need to strengthen my hip flexor muscles which I can do at the gym lifting weights. However doing that alone won’t translate to me kicking the footy well. At some point I need to actually practise kicking.
So while strengthening is helpful, you need functional training to get good at the task.
Same goes for the pelvic floor. We use our pelvic floor muscles in so many different ways and positions- while standing, playing sports, coughing, laughing, getting up off the floor and so much more.
That means practising your pelvic floor exercises only in your car sitting down won’t challenge it in the ways you need to use it. You’ll probably get really good at not wetting yourself while at a traffic light but it might not work as well when you need to stop yourself from leaking when you’re running or basically doing anything else.
See what I mean?
If you’ve been doing your pelvic floor exercises at the traffic lights first off, great work for doing them! But, as you can now see, it isn’t the most effective way to strengthen or improve the function of your pelvic floor.
So what is the most effective way?
The best way would be to see a women’s health physio who can do an internal assessment.
They’ll be able to assess you to work out the strength of your pelvic floor, the tone, the function and assess the connective tissue. They can then make a plan tailored to your level of strength and function and your issues.
You can also have an online consultation with someone if needed. This can be a good option if you don’t have access to a women’s health physio locally, if cost is a factor or if you prefer an online consultation.
If you’d like to do an online consultation you can make a booking with a Postbump consultant and they will be able to help you. Get in touch with us through the “contact us” button below.
If you prefer to do it on your own or a women’s health physio isn’t available to you that’s ok, there are ways to assess and manage it yourself.
First off, you’ll want to learn how to assess your pelvic floor yourself which you can find in the blog section ‘Pelvic Floor’ of the Postbump site.
You’ll then need to create a pelvic floor strengthening plan based on your assessment and your goals or issues. The plan you make should include the appropriate number of sets, reps and frequency (and sometimes weight), focus on relaxation, range, strength, endurance and function.
It’s important to do your pelvic floor exercises to prevent and manage symptoms associated with a weak or dysfunctional pelvic floor. However, it can be very tricky to navigate exactly how to do it.
At the traffic lights is a good start but there are so many more effective ways to strengthen your pelvic floor and now you know why.
Remember this article the next time you’re at a traffic light!