As a midwife, I talk about pelvic floor muscles on a regular basis, and am often the one advising women in pregnancy and postnatally of how important they are to exercise. They have many functions, including: control of continence, acting as a ‘hammock’ to support your abdominal organs and in turn maintaining your core strength/supporting the rest of your body, and of course a big role in sex.
I know, however, that many don’t have the motivation to keep them up (myself included – you don’t have to be pregnant or to have had a baby to do them), and some are not even sure they are doing them right. Elvie is ingenius in that respect, because not only does it make it fun but the sensitivity of the Elvie body means it can pick up pressure in most directions – and even tell you when you’re not quite doing it right! Some people have a tendency to push down instead of pulling up at first – Elvie will let you know if you do.
Pelvic floor strength is important for women at all stages of life; 1:3 have problems in this area whether parents or not. A huge 50% of those women also find this can spread to affect other areas, presenting as back pain. This is something I have had a huge struggle with in the last few years and I am always looking at new ways to improve, so when I heard about this I was even more interested in giving it a go.
I was lucky enough to be given one of the first Elvie‘s on the market this Autumn 2015, after being contacted by the development team due to the nature of my work as a midwife. I have been excited about the idea from the time we first spoke, so it felt like Christmas when it arrived!
First things first, the presentation was great. The packaging is discreet (I’m pretty sure the postman didn’t have a clue); there is nothing to make you think it is anything to do with women, let alone an intimate area! The bag, the box and the contents look really high end, and a little, well, exclusive – not words I would normally use to describe the packages that come to my door.
Elvie is similar in size to a tampon (and has an additional sleeve included to adjust the size yourself), and has a little ‘tail’ that remains outside your body and houses the bluetooth technology (used to communicate with your phone – it will all make sense soon!). It lives inside a little ‘pod’ when not in use, where it is also able to charge via a USB connection (the same as most modern phones so no need for extra wires).
Once activated (by a simple 3 second squeeze in your hand or by your pelvic floor muscles), it is connected to the Elvie app. You download this for free onto your Android or iPhone. After that, it’s pretty straight forward! The app takes you through a quick instructional set up and then you reach the ‘exercises’ – although they’re more like games given their interactive nature.
You set your own targets based on the strength Elvie detects in your pelvic floor muscles on that day (so no comparing to a generic strength value which could make some feel unsure). Next, you complete the ‘games’ based on strength, hold, pulsing and more. As you ‘progress’, or depending what level you feel comfortable at each day (it can change regularly, even in the same day), you begin to learn more about how to target the right muscles, and also begin to improve their strength and function. A daily workout can be a swift 5 minutes – although it’s pretty addictive so you may find yourself doing more!
Elvie is coated in medical grade silicone, making it comfortable and really easy to clean – simply run under warm water and pop it back in its little home when it’s dry, ready for next time. The ‘pod’ is small, compact and discreet, and can easily fit in your bag (or even coat pocket) to be taken with you wherever you may find the chance for a quick exercise, or two.
As Elvie develops, Chiaro (the team behind its creation) will be updating and improving its function via the updates to the app – with new exercises and new diagnostics to come that will further improve its performance. I have to say it’s pretty snazzy as it is, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how they can make it even better!
If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself, please get in touch with me here and I will treat you to a lovely discount. For now, I’m off to get some practice!!