Did you know that men have pelvic floor muscles too?
The male pelvic floor rests between the pubic bone at the front and the tail bone at the back.
It helps keep the front and back passage closed and has a role in erectile function too!
Pelvic floor training can be useful for men in some circumstances!
It is common knowledge that women develop weaker pelvic floor muscles as they age, with one of the main contributors to the weakness being childbirth.
But for men, the causal factors for weakness in the muscles can be quite different.
Weakness in the muscles can be due to: [list type=”icon-arrow”]
- chronic coughing;
- heavy lifting;
- bladder or bowel surgery;
- prostate cancer surgery or radiation treatment; and/or
- decreased fitness [/list]
Weakness in the muscles often leads to: [list type=”icon-arrow”]
- leaking urine with coughing, sneezing and activity; and/or
- poor bowel control (leaking wind or stool involuntarily). [/list]
Strengthening the muscles may help reduce leakage, but it can also help settle unnecessary urges to urinate and improve erectile function too!
So men – to find your pelvic floor muscles: [list type=”icon-arrow”]
- Try squeezing your back ring passage muscle (as if you are holding in wind). Now let go. Try doing this a few times to help you identify the muscle.
- Next time you go to the toilet to urinate, try stopping the flow of urine and then start it again. Notice what muscles you are using to achieve this. Only do this as a once off assessment – it is not healthy to practice this as an exercise.
- Stand in front of a mirror with no clothes on. As you contract your pelvic floor, you should see your penis retract and your scrotum lift up. Try to make sure that you are not using your abdominal muscles to achieve this ‘lift’. The pelvic floor contraction is an isolated and small contraction and overdoing it or trying to use too many accessory muscles to achieve this ‘lift’ can be counterintuitive! [/list]
So once you know where your pelvic floor muscles are – try to start exercising them! [list type=”icon-arrow”]
- It is easiest for most men to start their exercise program lying down with knees bent up and feet flat on the bed. When you are confident and strong enough, move to a sitting position and then eventually to a standing position.
- Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back and front passage and hold them on. You will feel your lower tummy draw in gently. Try to keep your upper abdominals relaxed and keep breathing!
- Hold the muscles on for at least 5 seconds if you can, gradually building up to a nice firm 10 second contraction.
- Start with 5 in a row, and build to 8-12 in a row.
- Practice 3-4 times a day.
- Incorporate the use of these muscles into your activities as well – squeeze them on before you bend, laugh, cough, sneeze or lift anything and this should start to limit your leakage if this is one of your issues! [/list]
Make this training part of your everyday life!
Once you have done 4 months or so of daily strengthening (as the program describes above) – you can reduce the amount you do to a few squeezes a day. But ensure you do do some each day to maintain the nice muscle strength you have put so much effort into gaining!
Some other helpful tips to keeping your pelvic floor healthy:[list type=”icon-arrow”]
- Keep your bowels working well and avoid straining on the toilet: eat a high fibre diet, exercise regularly and ensure adequate fluid intake.
- Avoid excessive heavy lifting if possible, which can strain your pelvic floor muscles. Try to halve loads and use good ergonomic postures for lifting, squeezing your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.
- Keep the weight off and reduce that load on your pelvic floor
- Have your GP help you manage your hayfever or cough more effectively. [/list]
Starting a pelvic floor exercise program often requires some professional input to ensure you are indeed exercising the muscles correctly!
If you think you would benefit from a pelvic floor assessment – book in today for your private, individualised check up with our pelvic floor physiotherapist!