Many of us have heard of “Kegelsor pelvic floor exercises, and probably have a vague feeling that we should be doing more. pelvic.There are brands with game-like applications, including perifit and Elvieand there is Kegel Balls also for sale.
As technology advances and the need for pelvic floor rehabilitation after pregnancy, childbirth and menopause continues, the demand for innovation in these devices has increased. Then there is the global pandemic which has restricted access to face-to-face medical treatment – prompting many of us to take our health into our own hands.
But what exactly are these devices for and do they actually work? The short answer: strengthening the pelvic floor; and, it depends.
4 things the pelvic floor does and why it often fails
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that run from our pubic bone to the tailbone, and between our seat bones, lining the base of our pelvis. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to lie on the floor to exercise your pelvic floor.
The role of the pelvic floor muscles is to:
- keep all of our organs (bladder, uterus, intestine) inside the pelvis
- keep the sphincters of our bladder and bowels closed (until we are ready to relax them on the toilet)
- provide a sexual sensation
- work with other deep core muscles to help with core stability.
The pelvic floor doesn’t always work as it should. Leaking urine (also called urinary incontinence) and pelvic organ prolapse are common pelvic floor complaints in women of all ages.
About one in three women will suffer from urinary incontinence at some point in our lives, especially if we’ve had a baby. Other risk factors include repetitive heavy lifting, straining due to constipation, extra weight, pelvic surgery, and hormonal changes.
‘Are Kegel exercises really good for you?’
Pelvic floor fitness
Pelvic floor muscle training is recommended as the first line of treatment for incontinence and prolapse, along with lifestyle changes such as healthy bladder and bowel habits, general physical fitness and weight management.
Pelvic floor physiotherapists are specially trained healthcare professionals to give you personalized advice for your pelvic floor symptoms based on an assessment and your situation. They will likely recommend daily exercises that may include rapid contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, coordination tasks, and longer holds.
Those who have difficulty following prescribed exercises, or who do not have access to a suitable physio for geographic or financial reasons, may be interested in trying biofeedback devices. These devices and their associated apps are designed to give you more information about how and when to do your exercises, remind you to do them, and help you stick to the plan.
Maintaining motivation can be difficult. Research shows it usually takes at least 6-12 weeks of regular pelvic floor training to see the results (just like going to the gym, we can’t build muscle overnight).
Do pelvic floor biofeedback devices work?
There is evidence to suggest a pelvic floor reminder apps and biofeedback devices may be helpful in improving pelvic floor function and bladder control. It could be superior to pelvic floor exercises alone. Again, he might not make a difference.
Some women does not find the use of technology helpful for pelvic floor training. Barriers can include connectivity or configuration issues, the need for privacy, distracting technology, and price. Insertable devices also require caution in use, as most are not appropriate during pregnancy, in the first six weeks after a baby or pelvic surgery, or if there is unexplained bleeding, pain, or active infection. If in doubt, it is always best to consult your doctor.
Benefits of pelvic floor trainers with game-like apps that sync with an inserted device include:
- giving real-time on-screen feedback for pelvic floor performance and correct technique
- enabling women to work with their physio remotely
- measure and track improvements in strength, endurance and coordination over time
- provide reminder prompts via phone notifications to complete workouts
- adjust the training difficulty of each session based on how the body reacts (this takes into account fluctuations in time of day and fatigue)
- entertain the user with a variety of games and tasks, making them more likely to stick with their pelvic floor program!
The bottom line
The evidence definitely supports pelvic floor exercises for incontinence and prolapse, and that’s better done with the support of a trained professional, such as a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
While early research looks promising, evidence of commercialized pelvic floor feedback devices has not caught up yet to their hype. But if you want to try a pelvic floor biofeedback device or app to improve pelvic floor tone for better bladder control, prolapse symptoms, or sexual function, then go for it (especially if your physio specialist agrees).
After all, the best type of pelvic floor exercise program is the one you stick with.
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