Sunday, September 16, 2012


One of the number one issues that I hear about from my patients who need to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles is that they have trouble finding a way to fit the exercises into their routine. Believe me, I understand. Our days are filled with work and other responsibilities and sometimes, especially in the beginning, you just completely forget about doing the exercises until you are falling into bed.

But the truth of the matter is that you have to decide what is important to you and make a commitment. I think that a lot of people come to me as a physical therapist and expect me to "fix" them. I am not a magician, but what I can do is give you the tools to fix yourself. The catch is that you have to use them!

So how do you make the commitment? I try to motivate my patients by telling them a powerful truth. The patients that I see who come in with the attitude of "I will do what I have to to take care of this problem", get results faster. They don't have the expectation that they will get better in a week, they understand that they will have to put in the work and they do it. One of my coworkers makes a great analogy for her patients. If you went to the gym to get in good shape and look like Cindy Crawford, you wouldn't expect that to happen in a week. These are muscles and it takes time to strengthen, but you have to put in the work.

So how do you work toward making your pelvic floor exercises a habit? Recent research suggests that it takes 66 days to form a lasting habit. That's why I instruct patients to do their exercises every day. I usually see patients who need to strengthen their pelvic floor for a time period that stretches over 90 days. If you do your exercises as instructed, you'll get in the habit during that period. You'll strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and be able to keep them strong!

Here are some tips to get in the habit:

  • Think about why you are doing this - Do you have urinary incontinence that is embarrassing to you? Do you want to be able to exercise or run without having leakage? Do you want to get rid of pads so you can wear thong underware again? These are all reasons that patients have given me and what is important is staying focused on these things to stay motivated. The exercises that I give my patients to do take 10-15 minutes, 2 times per day. Your pelvic floor therapist may assign exercises differently, but isn't it worth 20-30 minutes per day to achieve your goals?

  • Find a time that works for you - f you just plan to do the exercises when you find time during the day, you will not find the time. Commit a certain time of the day to these exercises. This is your time to take care of yourself and work toward your goal of being dry! I have some patients that do them as soon as they wake up in the morning and right before going to bed. Some people do these with the other exercises they do during the day. Often doing the exercises at the same time every day helps you to get into a routine.

  • Set a reminder- I tell patients to set an alarm on their cell phone to remind them when to do their exercises. Set it for a time when you usually have a few minutes to do them. Even if you don't do them at that second, you have been reminded to do them soon. Even better than this is getting an app for your phone. There are apps available for Iphones and android phones that remind you to do your exercises and have timers when you are holding contractions so you don't have to count! Some of these apps include their own pelvic floor exercises, so check with your physical therapist to make sure that these exercises are right for you.

Check out these apps to find one that works for you!

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