Pelvic Muscle Exercise Training Principles

Important training principles for any exercise program include overload, specificity, and maintenance. Overload states that in order to strengthen pelvic muscles they must be pushed to the limit and just a little beyond. Specificity states that the pelvic muscles are composed of fast and slow twitch fibers in a ratio of approximately 35%: 65%; some fibers have a combination of fast and slow twitch components. Fast twitch fibers improve in speed and strength with quick contractions, whereas slow twitch fibers strengthen and gain optimal resting length and tone with longer "hold" contractions. Fast twitch fibers fatigue quickly whereas slow twitch fibers are designed for endurance and postural tone; therefore, repetitions are low for fast twitch fibers and higher for slow twitch fibers. Maintenance describes exercising for continence as a lifelong endeavor. Pelvic muscle strength may be maintained by one to three daily 7- to 10-minute sessions. After exercising and symptomatic improvement, discontinuing exercises will typically result in symptom recurrence over time.

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