Sphincter Exercises

People with faecal incontinence or leakage of faeces can be helped by undertaking special exercises to strengthen the sphincter muscles. With regular practice, the exercises could help to build up your muscles. Check with your health professional to see if these exercises will help you.

There are specific exercises that focus on the anal sphincter muscle. These exercises can help to improve bowel control. These involve contracting and releasing the anal sphincter muscle. There are several different positions to do these exercises, such as sitting, standing and lying down.

A healthcare professional, such as a continence physiotherapist or specialist continence nurse, will guide you through these routines and help you to keep track of your progress.

To locate your sphincter muscles, pretend that you are trying to hold in a bowel movement or prevent yourself from passing wind. You should now feel the muscles around your anus start to tighten.

You should sit, stand or lie in a comfortable position with your legs slightly apart. Now try and squeeze the muscles for as long as you can. Relax in between each squeeze. Try to hold for up to 10 seconds and do this up to 10 times. Next squeeze the muscles as hard as you can, then relax. Repeat this up to 10 times.

You should try and do each of these sets of exercises 3 times a day. If you find the exercises are too difficult, try fewer repetitions at first and then build them up. Similarly, if they get too easy, try doing more repetitions.

You can do the exercises without anyone knowing about them, so they should be easy to fit into your daily routine.

Things to remember:

To begin with, set aside time to practise the exercises above. It is important that you start to feel comfortable doing them.

Once you see an improvement in your bowel control – don’t stop the exercises! You don’t want your problem to come back so keep it up!