CAN YOU TRAIN THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES BY CONTRACTING OTHER RELATED MUSCLES?

Review written by Dr Sarah Haag info

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

There is level 1 evidence and grade A recommendations for pelvic floor muscle (PFM) training to be the first line treatment for stress and mixed urinary incontinence in women. It has been suggested that some women may not be able to contract PFM correctly, and that contracting accessory muscles may create a training effect. The objectives of this study were to assess if contraction of muscles other than the pelvic floor would activate the pelvic floor muscles sufficiently to provide a training effect, and to assess the efficacy of the FemFit pressure sensor in measuring intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and PFM contraction.

METHODS

This was a cross-sectional study using the FemFit pressure sensor device. The design of the device allows it to move in response to the deformation of the pelvic floor during a PFM contraction, while also enabling measurement of the intra-abdominal pressure. A sample of convenience was made up of 21 experienced pelvic floor physiotherapists. Participants performed contractions of pelvic floor muscles and other exercises (curl up, drawing in of abs, hip abduction, hip adduction, hip external rotation) that are commonly considered to create a co-contraction of the pelvic floor.

If the desired outcome of an intervention is to increase activation of the pelvic floor muscles, it appears that doing a focused contraction of the pelvic floor is the best way to achieve this.

RESULTS

Pelvic floor muscle contractions created the greatest PFM pressure compared to any other exercise, except for during a cough. During a curl up, results were varied, with some participants having an increase in PFM activation pressure, and others having an

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