When we create a new habit, James Clear, award winning author of Atomic Habits states that there are four stages to it - cue, craving, response, reward.
First, there is the cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behaviour. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward. The second step of the habit loop is craving, which is the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of craving a change, we have no reason to act. The third step is the response. This is the actual habit you perform, in this case, our pelvic floor exercises! Whether a response occurs depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behaviour. Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward.
So what reward will our pelvic floor give us? Well, we first of all need to understand what the function our pelvic floor provides for us, so we can understand the importance of starting a habit with completing these exercises.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, that sits like a hammock in our pelvis and has four main functions:
controls our bladder function
controls our bowel function
provides support and upward lift to our pelvic organs
provides us with our sexual function
So, all in all it is a pretty important muscle group. The reward comes in the form of preventing or reducing the chance of dysfunction from any of the points above. In simpler terms, it allows us to maintain control over our bladder and prevent urinary leakage, maintain control over our bowels and not have the embarrassment of letting a little one go when we bend over...! It also allows us to be able to maintain good sexual function, both with orgasm and penetration and reduces the possibility of pelvic organ prolapse.
If we wanted our arms to be strong, we would endeavour to keep them working and active, so we should do exactly the same for our pelvic floor. Completing regular pelvic floor exercises and knowing exactly how the muscle moves and works can help reduce your chances of developing any issues with the functions outlined above.
So how can we make doing these, I'm afraid to say, boring exercises into a regular habit. Well we next need to understand how regularly we should be doing them and then I'll delight you with how to make it a habit.
The current clinical guidance states that if you are currently experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, then you should aim to do your exercises three times per day. This should be continued like this, for as little as three months, or until your symptoms improve. If you are not experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, then the guidelines state that you should be creating the habit to complete your exercises daily. If you are unsure on how to do your exercises then you can download my FREE pelvic floor guide here.
Here are five top tips to help you create a habit with your pelvic floor exercises:
Download the SqueezyApp, which can be downloaded on your phone and costs £2.99. It can be set to send you reminders to complete your pelvic floor exercises so you'll never forget!
Coincide it with another daily habit. I complete my pelvic floor exercises when I brush my teeth in the evening...! I often struggle to co-ordinate both actions (!) but I now associate the task as my exercise time!
Get a pelvic floor buddy! Team up with a friend to remind each other of doing your pelvic floor exercises or complete them on a call together. They can be quite tedious exercises, so why not do them during a fun conversation
Do them in the check out cue...! Why not kill two birds with one stone and complete them whilst you're eyeing up what the person in front of you has in their basket?
Don't be annoyed when you forget for a few days. As with everything, it's perfectly normal to not have a 100% retention rate. Don't get annoyed at yourself, just start a fresh the following day and keep up the momentum. Your hard work will pay off.
Keep reminding yourself of the reward, to reduce the chance of developing pelvic floor dysfunction - its a pretty good reward to get in my opinion!