How Can I Remember to Do My Pelvic Floor Exercises?

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The Sports Injury Clinic

Caroline Bender

February 9, 2021

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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 should 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 Floor Physiotherapist to show you how. Presuming you are doing the right thing and you know and want to exercises, but you keeping forgetting, what are the strategies that might help? 

Red Dot Special?

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 colour) in strategic places to remind you to exercise. This was out there for a year until someone decided that this wasn't going to work. A study was then 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. 

 

Routine Tasks?

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 habits. We hate doing it as little children and we skip when mum and dad aren't looking but eventually we realise it does us good and so we learn it's 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 traffic lights and yet when we assess, the muscles aren't that strong. The key here is that when we are at the lights we are always sitting. It makes sense to do the exercise in different positions including standing. At the traffic lights we are also concentrating on driving, we aren't 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. 

 

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 exercises 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 queue 

 

What else can I do?

Some people respond really well to Apps. There are hundreds or 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 found that the "Squeezy" app from the National Health Services U.K works well. It does cost a small fee. As for free apps, the green app with the white tick "Kegel Trainer" scored highly for quality and ease to use in their study. But apps won't work for everyone. Maybe they'll get you started or maybe you'll need more that 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 

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