Thursday, 19 January 2017

Are Pelvic Floor Exercises part of your New Year Exercise Plan?


Do you have to concentrate when you sneeze? If you don’t know what I’m talking about you are probably under a certain age, you have never had children or you are male. I think the rest of you will understand. I mentioned it to a colleague at work and she looked confused, I explained and she looked horrified. Yet for many women there will be a time in their life that everyday activities such as sneezing, jumping and laughing can cause us to leak wee. So glamorous!

I’ve a friend who admits to rather obviously wetting herself once while out shopping, but for most people with light bladder weakness no one would know apart from ourselves. We shouldn’t accept that leaking is something we have to live with though. Regular exercise will improve muscle control and can make trampolining and sneezing risk free. Yes I’m talking about pelvic floor exercises or kegels. Just someone mentioning them is enough to get me squeezing away, but for some reason I’m rubbish at doing them regularly.

I found that when I was heavily pregnant and I sneezed, I had to make sure I was squeezing my pelvic floor muscles before the sneeze happened (this is called “the knack”) and I would be ok. I confess that there were a couple of times though when I had a full bladder and a sneeze crept up on me that I did have a problem.

A photograph of a 7 month pregnant woman wearing all black against a white wall and pouting


Apart from avoiding wetting myself, there is another reason I should be toning my inner muscles regularly: I still have some discomfort from pelvic girdle pain which I developed when I was pregnant. Having strong pelvic floor muscles (as well as having good core muscles) helps reduce the pain for PGP. 

So regular pelvic floor exercises stop me being in pain, removes the risk of leakage and I still don’t do them as often as I should??? Apparently I am not alone a recent study found that 90% of women asked knew pelvic exercises were important, but 61% weren’t regularly doing them.

Research from Lights by TENA found a third of women in the UK experience light bladder weakness, but unexpected leaks are a more common occurrence with pregnant women and new mums where 2 out of 3 women are affected. Yes there are pads you can wear to prevent these moments being too embarrassing, but we shouldn’t have to. While there are a small number of people who might need medical help, for the majority regular pelvic floor exercises are enough to prevent any problems. And because it is hard to remember to do the exercises lights by TENA has created a free app called “My PFF” (My Pelvic Floor Fitness) which helps remind you.

Screenshot of the main page of MyPFF app showing a big circle in the middle saying "start". Writing is in pink with white background

My PFF app lets you can choose from 3 levels of difficulty (or set your own) and set up to 6 reminders each day. When you hit the big “Start your set” button it will count you through your squeezes. I’ve found that even if I don’t do the exercises each time having the reminders pop up on my phone 6 times a day means I’ll do them at least 3 times a day. Without the aid of reminders I probably do them about 3 times a week so this makes a huge difference.

As well as recording your progress the app also has information on what causes bladder weakness, videos and instructions which talk you through the exercises, and helpful tips. 

While the rest of your exercise routine might require special clothing and other kit the great thing about pelvic floor exercises is you can do them anywhere and at anytime. No one even needs to know you are doing them.


I recommend this app to anyone who is experiencing light bladder weakness or who is pregnant and wants to prevent problems. There is no need to have bladder weakness and we should all be able to be relaxed while we sneeze. 

Let’s take control and start working out.

And squeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeee.

The app is currently available on Google Play or iTunes and you can access the links via the lights by TENA website


Disclosure: this post is in collaboration with Lights by TENA. I was sent a lovely workout kit to motivate me to do my exercises and in return for me posting about the “my pff” app. Pelvic floor health is a subject I am really passionate about and I can’t recommend to people enough the importance of toning your pelvic floor. The Lights by Tena app is a great way to help people learn how to do the exercises. When I was pregnant I used a paid for NHS physiotherapy app and I found it really helped me. My Pff has many of the same features (for me the key one is the reminders) and has the massive benefit of being free. 

Stats from lights by TENA.
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