If you have a smart phone you may enjoy one of the new pelvic floor exercise apps. These are great innovations. This week I have tried out a couple of reminder apps (Squeezy & my pff), a tracking app (Elvie) and an exercise workout to watch on your phone (Pelvic Floor First)
Road-testing has had entertaining moments with my phone beeping and buzzing. I have done a LOT of pelvic floor exercises this week. Perk of the job.
TIP (obvious, to everyone else I’m sure, but I did it by accident): When you are looking at them the first time and organising your settings you might find it easier to view the app on your iPad/tablet so all the buttons and instructions are bigger.
Sadly there is no app that actually does the exercises for you. Though they all have similar sounding descriptions on the app stores, I would categorise them into ‘reminder’ apps, ‘ exercise tracking’ apps (with wearable device) and ‘portable exercise workouts’ to follow on your smart device.
Squeezy – the NHS Physiotherapy App for Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises, Propagator Ltd £2.99. Also offers the Apple Watch App for iphone.
This has been designed by one of my specialist physiotherapy colleagues, Myra Robson, using all her NHS experience and hundreds of clients feedback to develop an informative, easy to use, clear and visually pleasing app. You can change settings easily yourself to chose how many times a day you want to be reminded to do your exercises. It sends you a (silent!) text message to remind you to do your exercises. Then you tap on the screen to start a balloon/type bubble moving – you can’t but help start squeezing in response! Its a great visual prompt (with optional ‘boing’ noises). There are drills to practice fast contractions or slower ‘holding’ contractions. You can change the settings to make the exercises a comfortable speed for your ability. You can record your sessions, as well as how much you have been drinking.
If you are working with a physiotherapist they can help you set up your programme to fit with their training and check up on your efforts!
My pff – an app sponsored by Lights by TENA. Free.
This free app is a similar exercise concept, with a screen changing colour up and down to show you how long to hold and relax for, but lacks the helpful information and bespoke settings options of Squeezy. It was very simple to chose your level (in the settings bar at the base) and then get started. I liked the very simple interface of this app but similar to the reviewers I had problems with it crashing when trying to set the reminders. Once I had set them (2 or 3 crashes but it restarted easily each time) it worked fine. I like that there was a simple button to turn the reminder off (if you finally get a daytime nap you would be hideously cross if it’s an app that wakes you up)
HACK Use your phone clock function! Free.
Set your phone’s ordinary timer to alert you every 4 hours through the day to do your exercises
Exercise tracker device with smart phone app
Elvie feedback/tracker device with free app £150 www.elvie.com (for a 10% discount use PHYSIO as a promotion code at the checkout)
Tracking apps communicate with a wearable device. You may already have a FitBit worn on your wrist to communicate with your phone? The Elvie is, as they say, ‘the most intimate’ tracker – a small, pebble shaped unit which you put inside the vagina. Then it communicates via blue tooth to a phone app. When you practice your pelvic floor contractions a patented force and motion sensor system detects the strength of the muscle activity and shows up on your phone screen, giving you real time information about how well you are contracting. There are clever ‘games’ to play by contracting your muscles – think pacman controlled by your pelvic floor? It records your exercise sessions – great for motivation.
Important note – designed for discreet home exercise, unlike a FitBit, not for going out & about!
WORK OUT APPS WITH PELVIC FLOOR FRIENDLY EXERCISES
Pelvic Floor First – by the Continence Foundation of Australia . Free.
This app is not a ‘reminder-type app’, rather a portable workout regime to copy. If you like your pelvic floor exercises disguised amongst your other body part exercises then this app may be just right for you. The app is based on the Continence Foundation of Australia’s Pelvic Floor First website with the workouts designed by a physiotherapist and fitness professional to be ‘pelvic floor safe’.
There are 3 levels of workouts, using light hand weights and a gymball as props. The exercises are very clearly presented as just stills, audio or audio & video together. It has a nice feature to count down a daily workout but you do have to keep starting each new exercise by pressing the arrow on the screen.
Have you tried a pelvic floor exercise app? Did you like it? Please share your recommendations in the comments below and let me know which one I should road-test next?!