Women's Health, Physio, Pelvic Floor

Pelvic Floor Muscle Training

Pelvic floor muscles are very important as they:

  • Control the bladder and bowel
  • Support the pelvic organs and thus help prevent prolapse
  • Are important for sexual function
  • Support the growing uterus when pregnant
  • Work with core muscles to support the spine

Where are they?


  • They attach to the pubic bone at the front and tail bone at the back and to the side of the pelvic walls.
  • They are the only horizontal muscle in your body and often described as a hammock that supports the pelvic organs.


What can weaken the Pelvic floor?

  • Regular straining to empty the bowel
  • Constant coughing
  • Weight of baby and hormones during pregnancy
  • Muscle damage and interventions used during birth
  • Work involving regular heavy lifting
  • Excessive abdominal workouts or over challenging exercise
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Hysterectomy and some pelvic surgery.

Pelvic floor muscles cause problems when they are….


  • Weak and not strong enough to lift when you run or sneeze
  • Tight and cannot relax  
  • Over powered by excessive tightness in trunk and waist muscles
  • 1 in 3 women experience incontinence after labor due to pelvic floor dysfunction.


Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises:

  • Restoration of vaginal muscle tone and vaginal health
  • Recover from physical stress of childbirth
  • Prevention and treatment of stress urinary incontinence.
  • Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Increase blood supply and nerve supply to the pelvic region
  • Increases sexual stimulation and feeling

Exercises to strengthen your Pelvic Floor

It is important for all women before and after birth whether they have a vaginal or cesarean delivery to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic Floor Relaxation

It is very important to ensure your pelvic floor muscles are relaxed before you start strengthening them.

  • Lie on you back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Place your hands on the lower part of your tummy
  • Breathe into your tummy slowly and ensure your tummy stays soft
  • Hold for 3 seconds at the end of the breath and feel your Pelvic floor release
  • Repeat 4-5 times


  1. Long Hold:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet supported but apart.
  • Squeeze and lift around all 3 openings in your pelvic 
floor. These being your back passage vagina and bladder. Like you are 
trying to stop yourself passing wind and urine.
  • Hold for 6-10 seconds, keep your abdominal, buttock and 
thigh muscles relaxed and continue to breathe 
  • Relax for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise another 5 times
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, practice in 
sitting and standing.
  • Gradually increase the hold time and number of repetitions until you can do a 10 second hold 10 times.

Remember…Always stop exercising when the muscle fatigues.

  1. Quick holds
  • Tighten the pelvic floor muscles as above but only hold for a second before letting go fully.
  • Repeat 5 times in a row.
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • Gradually increase your repetitions until you can do 20 
quick squeezes in a row, it may take a few months to be able to do this.

How can PH help?

Book appointment with our women’s health physiotherapist Mary-Kate to get a thorough pelvic floor assessment and specifically tailored exercise programme.

01 496 4002     info@personalhealth.ie

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy- By Mary Kate Ryan

Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

What is it?

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis. 

It is not harmful to your baby, but it can cause severe pain around your pelvic area and make it difficult for you to get around.

Around 20% of women suffer from Pelvic girdle pain.

Different women have different symptoms, and PGP is worse for some women than others.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain over the pubic bone at the front in the center
  • Pain across one or both sides of your lower back
  • Pain in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum)
  • Pain in your buttocks.

Pain can also radiate to your thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area.



The pain can be most noticeable when you are:

  • Turning in Bed
  • Going upstairs
  • Walking
  • Standing on one leg (e.g. getting dressed)
  • Getting out of car
  • Standing up

What Causes PGP:

Sometimes there is no obvious explanation for the cause of PGP.

Usually, there is a combination of factors causing PGP.

Relaxin: During pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone called relaxin, which softens your ligaments to loosen up your joints. Relaxin is very important as by loosening the joints it allows your baby to pass through more easily during childbirth however it can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and therefore painful during pregnancy.

Occasionally the position of the baby may also produce symptoms related to PGP.

With PGP the degree of discomfort you are feeling may vary from being intermittent and irritating to being very wearing and upsetting.



Physiotherapy: Advice, Education, Exercises and Manual techniques can help!

The sooner it is identified and assessed the better it can be managed which may help to speed up your recovery, reducing the impact of PGP on your life.

If you have symptoms that do not improve within a week or two, or interfere with your normal day-to-day life, you may have PGP and should ask for help from your midwife, GP, physiotherapist or other health carer.


  • Continue to be as active as your can within your pain limits, and avoid activities that make your pain worse.
  • Ensure your back is well supported while you sit down. This can be achieved by placing a towel between the curve of your back and the chair.
  • Wear flat, supportive shoes and avoid standing for long periods.
  • Get help with household chores from friends, partner, and family.
  • Rest when you can.
  • Sit down to get dressed-e.g. Don’t stand on one leg when putting on jeans.
  • Try and make sure any weight you carry is evenly distributed- this means no shoulder bags, and try nit to left your toddler up onto your hip.
  • Be careful and take your time doing any activities that may put strain on your pelvis i.e. getting out of a car- keep your knees together and squeeze your buttocks.
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs
  • Squeeze your buttocks and keep your knees together when turning in bed.
  • Take the stairs one at a time, leading with the less painful leg.


  • Standing on one leg
  • Bending and twisting to lift
  • Carrying a baby on one hip
  • Crossing your legs
  • Sitting on the floor or in a twisted position
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Lifting or pushing heavy objects such as shopping bags, supermarket trolley.
  • Carrying anything in one hand (try using a small back pack).


It is important if you pain is not manageable with general advise to book into a physiotherapist. Treatment includes:

  • Assessment
  • Exercises to specifically retrain and strengthen stomach, back, pelvic floor and hip muscles
  • Manual therapy to ensure your spinal, pelvic and hip joints are moving normally or to correct their movement.
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercises in water.
  • Provision of equipment e.g. pelvic girdle support belts, crutches

To Book an appointment with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist Mary-Kate call Personal Health at 01 4964002 or email info@personalhealth.ie.

Polycystic, Ovarian, Cancer, Physio, Diet

Women’s Health – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Women’s Health

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a relatively common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. It is a condition where a number of cysts develop around the edge of the ovaries (polycystic ovaries) in addition to one or more other symptoms.


PCOS Caoimhe2



Irregular or absent periods
Excessive hair growth
Thinning of scalp hair
Difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight
Elevated testosterone levels
Fertility problems
Insulin resistance

Approximately one in five women has polycystic ovaries. In addition, approximately one in ten has PCOS to some degree.

Long term health concerns associated with PCOS include heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes. Being overweight, having high cholesterol or high blood pressure increases this risk. As a result, up to 60% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. 50-70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance.


PCOS Caoimhe1

PCOS cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed through diet and lifestyle. Healthy eating and being active can improve your PCOS symptoms and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In overweight women, the symptoms of PCOS can greatly improve by losing that excess weight. Furthermore, losing weight will reduce the amount of insulin your body needs to produce. As a result, your testosterone levels are reduced and your chance of ovulation improves. Many women with PCOS have difficulty with losing weight. This is where professional advice from a Dietitian will help. Gradual weight loss of 5-7% can restore ovulation, along with decreasing excessive hair growth and reducing acne.

The type and quantity of carbohydrate can influence insulin resistance. The Glycaemic index is a ranking system which shows how quickly your blood glucose rises after eating carbohydrate foods. Low GI diets and increasing physical activity can be useful to reduce the symptoms of PCOS due to improving insulin levels.

PCOS Caoimhe 3

How can Personal Health help you to improve your symptoms of PCOS?

In conclusion, our team of Dietitian’s and Chartered Physiotherapists can assist and help you by;

  • identifying your specific nutritional needs
  • providing dietary and lifestyle advice tailored to you
  • helping you to lose weight, if you are in the overweight category, through diet and exercise
  • providing dietary advice if you are planning a pregnancy
  • developing tailored resources such as recipes, meal plans, shopping lists to help you to achieve your goals
  • and finally, providing encouragement and motivation in a supportive, non-judgemental environment

PCOS Caoimhe4

To find out more:

Phone: 01 4964002

Email: info@personalhealth.ie


Surviving the first year of motherhood

Surviving The First Year Of Motherhood

Not a medical opinion……just a mum’s!

Like any parent, I will never forget my first day of motherhood, the day we brought our first born Lucy home from the hospital. The two of us walking from the hospital to the car with her tucked up in her car seat, both of us looking at people in a shocked manner if they moved in any way that potentially, in any way, could have ended up in harming her.

We placed her in the back seat, facing backwards, checking and re- checking the seat was fitted correctly. I sat in beside her and held the car seat….. just in case (well you can never be too careful, can you!!) while my husband proceeded to drive home at 10 MPH!!

I was so happy! “Nothing could upset me today” I said to myself.………..Ten minutes later (& about 100metres from the hospital with the 10MPH driving!) I was in tears! What am I going to do with her when we get home ?? The Midwives helped me with everything up until now??? The midwives made me a cups of tea- more sobbing!

‘OMG, I’m failing already…….I’m a useless mum……already! ’ That is when my husband asked me would I actually like to go into the house or was I going bring our child up in the car in the driveway!

Well, you’ll be glad to hear I did not bring her up in the car, I went in and I was ok! Obviously nothing can prepare you for the real thing but looking back there were a few small things I wish I had taken more heed with.

When you are pregnant, no matter what people say, you think when your little bundle of joy arrived it’ll be like this……


M&D 1



But we were like this……


Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/605050



There is a mountain of information on how to cope and everyone will give you their six pence, especially family!

A few tips I wish I had known, for what it’s worth & I am certainly no expert, were the following:

Stop Self Criticism:
  • When you catch yourself berating yourself for not losing the baby weight quick enough, you’re not breastfeeding/you are breast feeding!, you can’t get out the door before lunch and perfect ‘Susan’ has 5 kids up, fed and perfectly dressed by 7.30am!- (well done Susan!) Whatever it is, try and pull yourself back and ask yourself would you speak to your very best friend like you have just criticised yourself if she was in your shoes. Knocking yourself will only make you feel worse and with that you are more likely to make bad lifestyle choices and it then becomes a vicious circle. (The best friend thing may seem ridiculous but it works! I would never say or even think the things I have said to myself about myself to one of my friends!)
  • I know this can feel self-indulgent nearly and I do not mean go from self-criticism to arrogance but just treat yourself with the kindness you treat others. A good tip I found to help me get over the ‘self-indulgence or self praise’ feeling & putting a stop to the negative voice was that as your children get older (especially girls) you do not want them to self-criticise themselves and unfortunately, monkey see/monkey do, so why not change the habit now and you’ll also be a happier person for it too- so……..win/win!
Get out & meet other mums:
  • I know that sleepless nights can put a stop to having the strength or energy to get out the door but if you can muster up the strength it will always be worth it.
  • Chatting with other mums will make you realise you are not alone and that EVERYBODY thought they would be the family in the first photo but are in fact feeling like the family in the second one!
  • Obvious one I know, but SO important, even if it is just a stroll to the shops, again huge for your mental health and it is always the very day that it is hardest to make yourself do it is the most important day that you do. Make an arrangement to meet a friend for a walk and that way you will be less likely to pull out. And if you do pull out…don’t beat yourself up about it!
  • If possible, really try & attend a Post natal pilates or yoga class. They are both invaluable  to your physical recovery and for future pregnancies but so relaxing too, both elements so important to new mums. It is just very important you choose the right classes. Make sure that they are taught by professionals that have specialised in post natal exercise in order not to get injured or cause damage.
Make The Right Food Choices ‘Most’ Of The Time:
  • I really struggled with this one!! I just wanted sugar 24/7 with being so tired. When I did manage to drag myself away from the sugar and the 20 cups of coffee I felt the benefits massively, so it is so worth it if you can manage to make those choices.  Though some days you just have to drink copious cups of coffee with several packs of Toffee Pop biscuits and that’s ok too!
Try & Have Fun!:
  • Particularly with your partner. This may be a tough one as you are probably killing each other or just feel too tired to make an effort. Let go of being the perfect mum, give yourself and break, laugh- you won’t regret it! & the times goes so fast so try not to be too serious about it & enjoy it!


❤Lucy Coleman❤

1yrs old

How can Personal Health Help New Mums?

Exercise, Meet Other Mums & Have Fun:

Post Natal Pilates & Yoga classes led by Chartered physiotherapists and Midwives: see here for schedules and prices:


(Babies are welcome up to crawling age at Personal Health.)

Dietary Choices:

Dietary workshops for new mums: Coming soon


Book an appointment with our Consultant Dietitian:

Caoimhe McDonald(MINDI)


Call: 01 4964002

 Email: info@personalhealth.ie